tv U.S. Senate CSPAN December 6, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EST
remain vacant. no one ever until now on either side of the aisle has ever argued that the d.c. circuit should have only eight judges. i wonder if control of the body changes, which i don't think it will or we get a republican president, which i don't think we will, how quickly our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will abandon that foolish and specious argument. i'm concerned that we're hearing it now for the first time because the current makeup of the court happens to have five republican appointees and three democratic nominees. the presiding officer: time has expired. mr. schumer: mr. pre mr. schumer: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that i be given one and a half more minutes to finish this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president whvment we confirmed president bush's nominee to the 11th seat in 2005, thomas griffith, his confirmation resulted in their being 121 pending cases per judge. we did not hear a peep out of
the other side that that was too low, and yet today there are 161 cases per judge. halligan's nomination would go down to 143, far more than the 121 when all my colleagues on the other side of the aisle voted for mr. griffith, a republican nominee of president bush. so there's no reason to argue about caseload. the fact is, if we can't confirm halligan, this won't go down as a vote about caseload. this will be recorded as a new bar for nominees. in conclusion, mr. president, when caitlin halligan drove with her father from her home in kansas city to harvard, or when she was a standout student at georgetown law, or when she started her law for the new york attorney general's office, i'm sure that she could not have imagined that someday she would be the topic of the debate in the united states about whether she was too radical or lacked the candor to be a judge. i hope that when we vote and the
debate is over my colleagues recognize the truth here: halligan is a sterling example of a public servant who has worked hard, earned every honor she has received and fits squarely within the mainstream of judicial thought. she deserves an up-or-down vote today, and i will be proud to cast my vote for cloture on caitlin halligan's nomination. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of caitlin joan halligan of new york to be united states circuit judge for the district of columbia circuit. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of caitlin joan halligan of new york to be united states circuit judge to be the district of columbia circuit shall be brought to a
the presiding officer: is there any member who wishes to vote? any member who wishes to cleaning his or -- change his or her vote? the yeas are 34, the nays a 45. three-fifths of the senators not having voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to. mr. durbin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed -- resume legislative, proceed to a period of morning
business until 6:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: is there objection? hearing none, so ordered. under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m. republicans said they plan to block mr. cordray's nomination. the senate is in recess so each party can hold the weekly party meeting with senators. they will recone screen at 2:15 eastern. we'll have live coverage here on c-span2. tomorrow morning --
>> pay dollar now for your labor. have no health care, that is the most expensive single element. no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement. and you don't care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound going south. >> part of the point of the book is to change the way we think about change and to make us much more aware than i think we are instinctively
of the potential suddenness of disintegration or collapse. to make us realize what happens to the soviet union, what happens to financial system in 2007, 2008, what is currently happening to the european union, is the kind of thing that can happen to any complex, adaptive system. it can suddenly malfunction.
>> tomorrow morning on "washington journal", bloomberg business week staff writer, drake bennett on his article about behavioral economics that is the study of how psychology affects how people make financial decisions. you can find a link to the article on our website, c-span.org and mr. bennett takes your phone calls tomorrow morning at 9:15 eastern. pakistani authorities have asked u.s. forces to leave a military post in pakistan. american drones have taken off and refueled at the base. this comes after a nato attack last month that killed 24 pakistani soldiers. the brookings institution yesterday looked at the future of u.s.-pakistan relations. this is about 50 minutes. >> covering pakistani affairs, having served as a south asia bureau chief for the post, from 1999 to 2002. that's when i got to know
her. she was also bureau chief in kabul from 2002 to 2004. she's continued to follow events in the region very closely as reflected in her new book, "playing with fire, pakistan at war with itself". which she paints a vivid portrait of the country and its many problems. bruce riedel on my far right, a senior fellow here at brookings and himself a leading authority on south asian affairs. career cia officer, bruce has served in many senior positions in the u.s. government including as a senior director of for near east and south asian affairs at the nsc during the clinton administration. he was an advisor to the obama presidential campaign on south asia and shared an inneragency review of u.s. policy toward afghanistan and pakistan during the
early months of the obama administration. he is the author of his own recent book on pakistan entitled, "deadly embrace, pakistan, america and the future of the global jihad". on my far left is joshua white, the youngster of our panel. he is a ph.d candidate at the johns hopkins school of advanced international studies in the jennings randolph peace scholar at the u.s. institute of peace. he spent extensive time in pakistan doing research and has presented his findings in numerous academic and policy forums and in testimony before the congress. he is also an active participant in several high-level u.s.-pakistani track to strategic dialogues. his current doctoral work focuses on digs-making in islamic parties in pakistan.
and last but certainly not least to my right is marvin weinbaum who is a scholar in residence at the middle east institute and professor emeritus of political science at university of illinois where he was the director in the program in south asian and middle eastern studies. he also has served as analyst for pakistan and afghanistan in the bureau of intelligence and research at the state department where i first got to know him. he's written extense sievely on pakistani topics for a wide variety of foreign policy journals in book anthologis. he is and long been one of this country's leading authorities on pakistan. so, as with the previous group i'd like to invite our panelists to gaze out at the next five to seven years of the future of pakistan,
predict where it's headed. it is now been a year and a half since the bellagio conference was held and arguably the biggest change that has happened in the region during that period has been the dramatic downturn in u.s.-pakistani relations and i would ask our panelists to try to funnel that phenomenon into their five-minute remarks and discuss where things may be headed in that relationship which suddenly seems to have an enormous likely to have an enormous impact over pakistan over the short to medium term. and without further adieu then, let me turn to pamela. >> can you all hear me? is this on? how about that? well, we're sort of at both advantage and disadvantage in the second panel. a great deal has already been said over the last hour
and a half and i don't want to repeat a lot of the points that were being made before. we don't have that much time if we're true it our schedule, less than 45 minutes. so i'm going to be very telegramatic here to make some bullet points so we have more time for discussion. two things i want to say first. one a previous speaker talked about fluidity of events of which i'm certainly a minor victim. i had to revise my recent book something like six times after it was quote, unquote, finished and at the publisher to accommodate such things as floods, covering the country of pakistan, the extension of general kayani, the are killing of tasir and then worst of all, for many reasons, the capture and killing of osama bin laden of which we were only able to get something like one sentence into the final,
final, final version of the book. the second point i want to make is that in reading through all these chapters and listening to all these comments i'm struck by the extraordinary commonalty of the diagnosis. speaker after speaker, chapter after chapter, everybody seems to generally agree on a set list of problems that pakistan has been facing for a very long time and continues to face. it's also striking how pretty bleak the prognosis seems to be. i haven't heard much in the way of, sort of optimistic forward-looking places for hope. you know, if you look at the places that people would like to think of as hopeful there is always a downside, media being one that comes to mind. media is an incredible potential for positive change in a place like pakistan but also has a
terrible downside. it is not only exposing scandals it is also pandering to the lowest common denominator in extreme cases. extreme emotionalism, anti-foreigner, anti-americanism. lots of things happening with this great new media. judiciary is enormous hope. the lawyers in the judiciary, supreme court, chief justice restored to power, that too has had its disappointing side. not that much has changed as a result of the restoration of mr. chowdry the lawyers movement which had its shining moment several years ago has been quite a disappointment, the nadir was in fact the positive reception that he got at the courthouse was brought there having as assassinated the appointed governor of punjab. so yes, there are some positive points but generally speaking i think we all agree things are not going very well.
i want, i want to talk about a couple of things where i think there are some opportunities possibly for help. i mean for ways that things could be improved. i want to talk about, since we're being asked to, first, the u.s.-pakistan relation. we all know it is getting worse. we all know the reasons why it is getting worse. i want to focus particularly on this issue because i worked a lot about that on two years i spent researching my recent book and that is public opinion. it is very, very true that, yes, most pakistanis do not support terrorism. most pakistanis do not support al qaeda or the taliban or cutting off people's hands but at the same time the body of evidence shows at that anti-americanism, anti-westernism has never been higher in pakistan than it is now. it is across the board and we're not talking as other speakers have said, we're not just talking about poor,
alienated struggling people. we're talking about all kinds of people. we're talking about broad public sentiment and i would posit that there are two reasons this is happening. well three i guess. one is and i said in some recent talks, perhaps some of you have heard about talking about in my book, what i see happening is this growing confluence of what i call not the al qaeda school of thought but of two other phenomena, one of which is what i call a growing, emotional and very, very emotionalistic defensiveness about islam. people in pakistan, many of them feel that their religion is under threat from the west. i don't necessarily think that's true but i acknowledge that many people in pakistan feel that it's true. that needs to be addressed. there needs to be a much more, one minute, my god. there needs to be a much
more powerful counter narrative from the west and from moderates within a pakistan and their supporters abroad. that, it needs to be countered. pakistanis, especially the youth, not only the youth, feel frustration. people feel alienated from the state. people feel they have nowhere to turn. they're getting very mixed messages from their leaders, from television, from politicians, from religious leaders. they don't really have anything to grab on to except their religion and there are many ways they can go. i say that the youth of pakistan is very much up for grabs right now. you know, if you look just what is happening on the campus of punjab university and the appeasement that is going on and the sort of ceding of space to the radical student movement, it's very, very alarming. now we don't have enough time here to talk about solutions but i think there are many areas where if you want to put it simply, shoring up moderation,
shoring up the traditional version of pakistani islam and trying to isolate the extremes and the fringes. whether that happens from within or with help from without it is really the only thing that will make a big difference in the long run. we have to win them over. we can not destroy them with drones. thanks. [applause] >> thank you, pamela and now i would like to turn to bruce riedel who is one of the architects of the obama administration policy toward the region and recently did a piece in the "new york times" on containment which chris mentioned during the first panel. so over to you, bruce. >> thank you very much. it's a pleasure to be with such a distinguished group. i want to underscore first of all the importance of this project. i've been benefiting from it, from its inception in being
able to read all the drafts and i can say very honestly the deadly embrace would not be the book that it is without having benefited from all those drafts and i want to particularly thank steve cohen for organizing this project and doing all the hard work to make it come together. we are, once again, in a debt to his leadership. because of the time and because of a very sore throat, i'm going to try to make only two points very briefly. regarding pakistan's immediate future, the next three to five years. first is, i fear that we are seeing the creeping establishment of pakistan's fifth military dictatorship underway right now. what do i mean by that? that is not going to be a repeat of the musharraf era or it will be something more subtle and more nuanced than
that. but i think in many ways it is another military dictatorship and dictatorship means there's a group in power that makes decisions irrelevant to what the popular vote, what the popular majority is and what the elected government is and i think that that's a phenomena we're increasingly seeing in today's pakistan. she laid out the notion of the four-legged pakistani political system which has been in essence for the last three years. i think we're seeing a qualitative change in the power of those four legs underway today. now some will say this was always inevitable, that the zadari government because of the nature who the president was, nature how it came to power was probably doom to fail but that's clear in retrospect as it was in 2008 or 2009. some with will say sadari's weaknesses and they're profound and go to the very core of the politician that
he is made all of this inevitable but that i think too is the benefit of to/20 hindsight. the new military dictatorship that is emerging in pakistan, the fifth military dictatorship will be very different from its predecessors. the facade of civilian government is likely to continue to go on. we'll still have a president and a prime minister. there will be a foreign minister. they will have all the trappings of power but behind that, we will have very little of the real powers of power. the media will continue to be very active and alive except when it criticizes the army too seriously, at which point the journalists who did so will be terrell nated thoroughly. the judiciary will be able to do what it wants to do as long as it doesn't challenge the military. behind the scenes the army will decide key issues of national security and allocation of resources. here again one could say this is not new in pakistan.
it's been going on a long time but that was in some dispute over the last three years. there was an attempt by civilians to change them. the civilian government itself and many of its leaders and i would say this includes the president, are increasingly intimidated and frankly scared to death of what the military can do. memo-gate is the ultimate illustration of all this and is a phenomenon that is accelerating this process right as we speak. it's ironic since the whole purpose of the memo, in memo-gate was to prevent a military dictatorship. it is in fact facilitating the development of a military dictatorship. i whoever wrote the memo and i hope whoever wrote about the memo in "the financial times" can live with their conscience about what they have done in the interests of self-promotion. the model that pakistan is
becoming i think unfortunately is south asian version of algeria, a country in algeria where the military rules behind the scenes is very hard to even know who in the military it ruling behind the scenes. an assembly of generals who makes decisions behind curtains, behind false fronts all the time, not a single powerful person but a collection of them. in the case of pakistan it is of course the core commanders. the good news is i don't think this process is irref veriable yet. i -- irrevocable yet. i think it can be turned around the pakistanis can if they want it. mandate for elections for a new government could yet turn this around. it is no guarantee by any means but certainly a possibility. but left on the steady drift
that it is i see pakistan going into its fifth military dictatorship. the second point i would make i think is also one that is relatively simple and that the united states and nato today and pakistan on the other hand are fighting a proxy war in afghanistan. this has been true since 2005 as well but many of the veils behind this proxy war are now falling apart, falling very, very quickly and the bonn conference today is the latest examples of veils falling apart. the entire world, united nations nato and the international community is backing the karzai government and the pakistan government for one reason or another is not there. it's backing the taliban and it has been backing the taliban for some time. the assassination of president rubani on september 20th was a defining milestone on this process. because it clearly put pakistan on the side of a force which does not want to
negotiate which is not interested in a political process. up to september 20th we could hope there was a political process in the pakistan. when that bomb went off that hope came to an end. pakistan, united states and nato think is three very brief points about what i see looking ahead in pakistan as i come out of the chapter in this book.
the first, the u.s.-pakistan relationship bruce has written a lot in recent weeks about, about containment, about a shift toward a policy of containment toward pakistan. chris fehr mentioned that as well. there is a lot to commend that line of reasoning given the direction that the relationship is moving. i think, at the same time it's not the most, the most helpful construct and i want to explain why i think that's the case. i think a lot of people use containment as a shorthand, as chris mentioned, for limited cooperation on matters of mutual, matters of mutual interest in the environment of, of some discord. and i think that that can be an element of a policy of containment as we saw during the cold war but you can also call that any number of other things. you can call that modest transactional relationship. you call that the limiting the scope our objectives and what we're going to be able to accomplish and be
realistic about the areas which we disagree. the other, another charactertic of containment often brought to light that containment means planning for the worst case and on this point i would contend we already do that we do a lot of planning for the worst case. we plan for realistic worst case scenarios. nonproliferation or i should say proliferation scenarios that are worst case. we spend a lot of time planning what happens if there is another mumbai attack? what is the fallout of that? there are a number about contributors to this book who trace some of those processes. we also spend a lot of time planning for highly unrealistic worst case scenarios. what if the taliban roll into islamabad and decide then to do something there? we, i think we already occupy ourselves with this kind of planning and again, we don't need to call that containment as such. third and most important i think one of the signature characteristics of containment is, is proxies.
contesting not directly but at the periphery. we saw this during the cold war. here again i think the metaphor entirely fit because our primary area of peripheral enpagement with pakistan is afghanistan. it is proxying engagement that is currently carrying on in afghanistan and that if anything i think is likely to decrease over time and the one area where we're likely to continue to engage pakistan at the periphery is in relation to those groups that come from pakistan to engage in kind of transnational activities, transnational terrorism. so all that to say, to frame this i think there is something changing in the u.s.-pakistan relationship. the scope is narrowing. there's more suspicion. there's going to be even more planning for worst case scenarios i think we can call that something other than containment. there are other constructs and other ways to think about what's happening. in my chapter i touch on a number of different things i which saw or which i sort of
speculated about looking ahead in pakistan and i want to touch briefly just on three of them. the first is, what's going to happen with islamism in pakistan? i spent a lot of time thinking about this and writing about this. i spent a lot of time talking with islamist political leaders in pakistan as i know pamela has as well. and i'd like to highlight what chris fair mentioned which is that one of the really disturbing, surprising, shocking things has been the vitriol and the violence directed against what is traditionally seen as more moderate expression, more moderate branch of islam in pakistan. we see that with bombings against shrines which have increased in the last several years. we've also seen which is reason more disturbing are elements of those supposedly moderate groups that have become violent as well and this was mentioned by the questioner seeing the attack
on taseer which brought a whole stream of radicalism which many hadn't seen before. what i take away not everybody is crazy in pakistan. what i take away from this is that we have to see the dividing line not so much as between the liberals and the extremists and always ask, what's, what's the balance today between the liberals and the extremists? but to look inside all the groups we find in pakistan and ask some more focused questions like, what do they believe about who can enforce the sharia? because a lot of these questions really come down to very focused questions of, who can take shary i can't into their own hands, take force into their own hands to enforce islam? as we look into the future the dividing lines between those those groups that are going to be more stablizing and those that are destablizing will fall on questions like this, not along who is a liberal and
who is not. second, i mentioned in the chapter, i sort of speculated about the prospect of a civil right, a center-right government emerging in pakistan. and at that time i said this may be the sharif government or, sharif-like government that emerges. if i were to adjust now that would be a imra-kahn like government that would emerge and we could have a very interesting discussion what that might look like and how might impact u.s.-pakistan relations but in short i think it wouldn't do anything dramatic to the relationship but it would allow some of the military centers of power and others to deflect even more of their problems with the united states on to, onto the parliament, rendering them moot and would, i think we would all expect facilitate a much sort of wider outcry against the united states. i've also, in studying
islamic politics i talk to some of the islamist parties who they would like to align with in the next election if it turns out there is a center-right government. i would expect that some of those parties would like to be part of it and given the evolution of reforms of the 18th amendment there is now a whole host of opportunities at the provincial level for policy making that didn't used to exist. which is to say there are a host of opportunities for islamist parties in the coalition to play around with education and policy and with health policy and other things in ways they couldn't in the past . .
>> at least in the last couple of decades hasn't been a viable construct to begin with. um, and, in fact, the most troubling kind of questioned nationalism i could imagine is one in which the taliban actually get really smart and decide to appropriate it for their own purposes which, to date, they haven't done. on the other hand, we saw the government did a lot of positive things. the 18th amendment devolved the number of powers, the national finance commission award provided, met a lot of the demands of those in the frontier province, for example. there have been little outbursts of demands for a hazara province. all of these, i think, are possible as part of a grand political bargain, and i think the state has been quite adept -- i realize i just said pakistan, the state has been quite adept at dealing with this and at meeting some demands in a
minimal sense in order to preclude broader vociferous tendencies in the society. and i wouldn't say they borrowed a lesson from what india did with its state reorganization, but there are certainly parallels to how they have quieted some of these tendencies m i think in this sense the state is more coherent than people often give it credit for. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, joshua. now marvin weinbaum. >> thank you, john. well, i guess you'll come away from this session here saying pakistan is in crisis, and i can understand why. trouble is that for so long those of us that have been watching pakistan have been saying pakistan's in crisis. so this is hardly new, a new observation. in fact, the meaning of crisis for pakistan is, perhaps, lost.
certainly, while we, what we recognize here is that many of the ingredients that we would have thought would be game changers along the way just never came to fruition. whether it was because the vehicle for change, vehicles for change were not there, whatever it was we tended to focus, we tended to focus a good deal -- we've had to -- on a certain resiliency in spite of everything, a, maybe an inertia. but in any case, that the spark was not there, and so it's not surprising that when i wrote my chapter and i laid out six possible scenarios which include just about all of what we've heard this afternoon, i assigned probabilities to them, and i gave the greatest probability to
muddling through. and i don't entirely back away from that. it's, it just seems given what we know about the country, what we know about the propensity for change when all of the same players are, seem to be on the scene perpetually, and everything changes but nothing really changes although even with this tonight knewty scenario -- even with this continuity scenario, there will be changes. we also have word that it's okay because, um, there is a silent majority out here. we've heard that before. and that somehow they, they stand apart here. and if only they had an opportunity to express themselves, and so it's the deep state which has taken this away from them, and they are really more reasonable, more likely to
be tolerant and so on. and if you don't like silent majority which is such a vague term, civil society is there. and if you give it time, it's going to be able to step up and put one of my best scenarios for pakistan, put it certainly on that track. and so that's where i was when i wrote the chapter, and i say i'm not backing away from it entirely, but i must say that the events of this year have led me to question whether it is going to be business as usual. we've seen a series of developments here, shocks to the pakistan system, to the relationship with the united states which are really worrying. for example, what we once thought of as the jihadi narrative, some of the conspiracy theories that were
once kind of fringe expressions you can't leave pakistan or read pakistan's media or whatever and not say these have become a consensus. so we come back to a word that was used earlier. are we seeing something qualitatively different emerge here? i leave open that possibility. that what has happened here is that you can't say, well, it's the army simply manipulating things anymore because it seems in some ways as if the aware public, the politically-aware public has gone beyond perhaps even where the military wants to be. and, in fact, what we have seen here is that the ability of the policy elites to act with a certain amount of independence here of the public which they have done right along here, one
story for the public as they deal with us, their degrees of freedom have apparently shrunk. so i wonder, and then i see something like what happened, yes, the media, the free media and the cable owners apparently met a day or two ago, and they came out in favor of suppressing stories written abroad that were critical of pakistan. now, these are the champions of expression. the cable media has opened up all kinds of opportunities. so while i'm really concerned about and i think others in this panel have reflected on one way or another is to say are there things in the fabric of society which has been a strong element here of continuity, but is it
being, is it being torn by the kind of rhetoric that is we're hearing consistently here where this jihadi narrative which has not just anti-americanism, but its enemies, islam is challenged. it's gone further, and if they can't -- they don't have to win elections if they worn the soul of a country -- if they warn the soul of a country. and that's the insidious development here. and finally, let me say that it's important here because as we try to dialogue with pakistan, we like to think that we are, we can, we can work within rational boundaries. but if we face an interlocutor here that is not responding to what we would consider, we'd
have to say nonrational arguments and assumptions, it leads us to wonder whether really we can reach what we have to. we recognize we have to. pakistan is there, we need one another, we've got to find at least those common denominer thes -- denominators on which we can find agreement. it's in both of our interests. my concern is, obviously, how much more difficult that's become now. and without any, as has been suggested here, no one has suggested the way, the way out of this. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, marvin. before opening the floor to questions, i'd just like to add my own cautionary note on u.s./pakistani relations. things are bad now, very bad. basically, because our goals in
afghanistan are incompatible. the pakistanis want a friendly state, they don't think the karzai government is that state, and they're afraid of growing indian influence in the country. but if we push too hard, the danger is that things could get a whole lot worse. if we were to come in particular to blows with the pakistan army which, like it or not, is the only force in pakistani society strong enough to prevent a jihadist takeover of the state, and i would simply leave you with a paraphrase of colin powell who said famously of iraq, break it and you own it. so now, floor, for questions. and, please, identify yourselves when called upon. nigel. [inaudible conversations] >> coming. >> thank you.
question for mr. idle. you talk of a fifth creeping coup which is going to be different from the sort of coupes we've seen in the past. is this going to be a function of the structural changes in the makeup of the pakistan army that have taken place in the last 15 years which we've discussed today in terms of the development of home-spun, lower middle class army officers? and the fact that they're not terribly interlinked with the west in view of what has happened in the last 20 years? and secondly, to what extent is this going to be due to the personality of the army chief and, um, because army chiefs tend to have different personalities and tend to may different roles. tend to play different roles and tend to articulate the interests of their institution in different ways. >> i very carefully avoided using the phrase "coup," in this
dick today tarshop. dictatorship. the process is much more slow moving than that, much more insidious. it's a process of power, all moving into the hands of the army leadership. if you look back to 2008, it wasn't in that case, even in 2009. are changes in the officer corps leading it? i think changes in the officer corps may affect the tone of what this new dictatorship looks like, and it will be more anti-american than ever before. as anyone who's spoken to young pakistani army officers knows, the intensity of anti-americanism among young pakistani officers is truly astounding and very, very worrisome. the personality of chief of army staff in this coup is less important in this dictatorship than it was in previous ones. i can see, envision a situation
in which kayani leaves after the end of his tour, but the de facto military dictatorship continues with just a new chief of army staff. i think it's the collective leadership which is making the decisions now. in that sense, kayani is a transformational figure in that he doesn't seek all power in his hands, at least yet. at least yet. >> do you mind if i add a point? i'd just like to add two quick points that weren't raised about the military. one is, um, that it's important to remember that the most important thing in many ways for the army leadership is public opinion. they don't want to be out in front of public opinion which is why they waited so long to actually move against the taliban and didn't until they were sure they had it. public opinion is getting more conservative and more emotionally islamic. and i think that's very important to remember because the same, the same people are there, you know? civilians and military, it's the
same society. and i think that the army, if you look at what happened after the assassination of osama bin laden, they were completely caught off guard, completely upset by this at the top. i think the army leadership, we think of it as a top-down institution. i think they're very worried about more extreme islamic values and beliefs bubbling up from the very bomb of the rank and file. i think that's really important to add. thank you. >> yes, i would also add that really there's really not that much of a change. i mean, the army has, basically, always called the shots on national security issues and has been inclined to let the civilians, particularly when civilians are in power, sort of run domestic affairs and particularly economic economic affairs. so i don't think that there's anything at all unusual about what's going on now. it's more all a reaction to this current dramatic downturn in u.s./pakistani relations which h
has precipitated all this. next speaker right down in front here. >> i am dr. nassad -- [inaudible] i listen to all the panelists in both these discussions, and it was very enlightening. steve writes beautifully and what he has written, he always writes his analysis and observation in poetry, and he has done it again. and every time he says this is my last book, and i tell him, no, it's your second to last book. one of my observations and a question, she had mentioned that -- [inaudible] back with the pakistan army. i think i tend to and i'm inclined to disagree with her. the only reason he is becoming popular is because every political party in pakistan
right now is in some power. so people are frustrated with each leader and every party. when they look back, they don't see anybody else. no experience. and my question is to bruce, a very dear friend. a few years ago when we were having lunch, you mentioned your affiliation to the obama administration is the support of democratic institutions and consolidation of democracies, legislative -- [inaudible] and after making that recommendation how do you think the political establishment are, the democracy is working in pakistan? number two is that how, where do you see the silver lining where the war on terrorism could be bring to a closure and be extremist islamist militarism is marginalized, and how can we
realign, reinforce and make the solutions between u.s. and pakistan more sustainable which is critical both not only for both countries, even for the region and even for the global peace? thank you. and say it without -- [inaudible] >> so silver linings are hard to find here today. um, you asked me how i think the support for civilian government has turned out over the last three years, and i think i made it clear not, it's not doing well. i don't think that's the fault of the american effort to back it up, although i think we've made mistakes. i think it has more to do with the dynamics of internal pakistani politics. in 2009 president obama embarked on a policy towards pakistan which i call -- they don't call
it, but i call it -- engagement with drones. that strategy, i think, made sense at the time, but in light of the two developments i laid out, the growing weakness of the civilian government and the growing intensification of the proxy war, it's time to shift to a policy of engagement and containment. that is to say, to continue to engage pakistan to try to support the developments of civilian democratic government, to try to help the pakistani economy develop, to try to help pakistanis. but at the same time, try to contain the worst ambitions and excesses of the pakistani army. that's a very, very difficult balance to do. right now we're not doing enough on the containment part. we're slipping and sliding into it, but without, i think, a coherent framework. i also want to underscore a point that pamela made earlier which is drones by themselves is not a sufficient policy. and i think there's also been an, a tendency in this
administration to become more and more prone to using the trone as the solution to the -- the drone as the solution to the problem. drones are an effective tactical instrument, they are not a strategic policy, and we need to reset our policy towards one of engagement and containment. >> i think we have time for one more question. >> i'm the publisher of the friday times from lahore. my question is to mr. riedel. you mentioned a possible game changer in new elections, and then you mentioned disaster if u.s. and pakistan continue on a collision course. i just want to say as a pakistani that, um, i believe that new elections will not be the game changer that we hope they might be because the verdict of the people will be more divided, and, um, i think
that, therefore, it will be more easy for those who have kept in via coup to carry on manipulating the policy as they do at the moment. so my question is, given the probability that we will continue on this course, what do you think disaster will be? could you, please, spell out what you mean by "disaster"? >> there are any number of disasters out there; another mumbai attack, a mass terrorist casualty incident in the united states of america that's postmarked pakistan like times square, more and more conflict on the duran line between nato forces and pakistani forces becoming, in effect, a hot war. it could be a limited hot war, but a hot war. um, but, you know, i would
prefer not to end on the disasters that are coming because i, i know it is ease is si to -- easy to fall into the trap of extreme pessimism about pakistan. you're almost always right when you go down that road. i prefer to go down the road of on optimism about pakistan. i remain an optimist about pakistan largely because of the pakistani people and because of what i see written about in pakistani media. pakistani media today is fillind with a lot of scary, made-up stories, but it's also filled with a lot of thoughtful opinion pieces by people who recognize what's going on in their country and who lay out things that should be done for it to be better. and for me, that is a source of optimism which leaves me with a feeling that pakistan may not muddle along so much, but will somehow get by. and i don't rule out the possibility that we might even have some silver lining someday for the people of pakistan.
[laughter] >> you know, my fear is that the united states doesn't necessarily have the ability to make things better in pakistan. but it sure does have the ability to make things worse. and i hope we act responsibly in our relations with pakistan in the future. and with that, i turn it back to steve. [inaudible conversations] >> that mic isn't working, so i'll use this one. let me thank this panel and the first panel for, i think, a brilliant series of discussions on pakistan. when i wrote my book on the idea of pakistan 2004, i said this could be america's major foreign policy problem by the end of the decade, and i think, unfortunately, i was right. but i'm not, i agree with bruce, i think pessimism is not the rule. george schulz once said hope is not a policy. i talked to a friend in islamabad while preparing for this, and he said despair is not a policy either.
and my chapter, which had the benefit of leading all these other chapters, i sort of look at the question of is whether pakistan reachievable. also one more point. my first book on pack tan, "the pakistan army," was banned in pakistan. i hope given what marvin weinbaum said, in the program is not banned in pakistan. [laughter] [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> here's what's on the c-span networks today. the house of representatives is debating legislation aimed at curtailing some federal regulations. you can watch that live right now on c-span. the u.s. senate is in a break now, but the senate reconvenes at 2:15 p.m. eastern with live coverage here on c-span2. and coming up live shortly on
c-span3, president obama from a high school in kansas talking about the economy. >> pay a dollar an hour for your labor, have no health care, that's the most expensive single almost, have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement, and you don't care about anything but making money, there will be a job-sucking sound going south. >> ross perot spoke out about trade issues during the 1992 presidential debate. the billionaire businessman made two attempts for the presidency, the first time getting over 19 million votes, more popular votes than any third party candidate in american history. and although he lost, he's had a lasting influence on american politics. he's our final candidate in c-span's 14-week series, "the contenders," live friday at 8 p.m. eastern. to preview other video on ross perot and to see all the program from our series, go to
c-span.org/the contenders. >> the senate banking committee today held a hearing on implementing the dodd-frank financial regulation bill. part of the hearing focused on mf global, the financial derivatives firm that went bankrupt at the end of october. here's some of that starting with testimony from a member of the commodity futures trading commission. >> d.c. currently has dozens of staff members working on mf global issues. we have auditors, investigators and attorneys looking into the matter. we're working closely with the trustees' staff and with the forensics accountants to make sure that we are tracing all of the transactions that went in and out of the customers' segregated funds at mf global. the number of different accounts and the number of different actions -- transactions that did occur has made in the a very complex process for both our
staff and the forensics accountants that the trustee is using, but we are all -- we all are working through these issues and hope to resolve them very shortly. >> chairman shapiro, do you have anything to add? >> what i would add, mr. chairman, is that the security side of mf global was very much smaller, only about 400 securities accounts compared with many thousands of futures accounts, and while the company did not report a shortfall in the reserve account, um, the equivalent of the segregated account on the securities side, we're, of course, not relying on any representations whatsoever from the company. we're working to insure money can be traced and recovered for the's estate, and we're also looking at our rules to see if there are other things we could be doing differently to bolster the integrity of the custody practices of broker dealers. we have a very strong customer
protection rule that would only already allow customer funds to be invested in u.s. global securities backed by the full faith and credit of the united states. but we've also proposed some rules with respect to requiring separate audits of broker dealer custody practices that would also enhance sro and sec examination authority of broker dealers and would require broker dealers to file regular reports with the agency with respect to their custody practices. and there's a pending finra rule proposal out for comment right now that would greatly enhance, um, financial reporting by broker dealers. so, um, we are also looking carefully to see if there are additional things that we can be doing. the trustee has filed a motion with the court to transfer the bulk of those 400 securities accounts to another firm, and that motion will be heard on friday by the court. >> chairman, cftc staff
participated in the interagency effort in requesting a proposal, but the cftc did not send on to the joint tax adopted by the other regulators almost two months ago. when can we expect the cftc to issue its broker proposal, and will there be indifferences in the cftc proposal from the text issued by the other regulators in october? >> mr. chairman, we did at a staff level participate, and i would envision that we would move forward with the proposal consistent with what other regulators have done. it's really just been a capacity issue of brings things forward to a commission. we had our last meeting in october 18th and the next one december 5th. we also had a changeover of one commissioner retiring and
another coming onboard. so i'd envision to get feedback from staff and commissioners and move forward with something consistent with what other regulators have done. >> my time is up, but i do have additional questions for all of you regarding qrm, farm implementation road map, the fsoc and oversight of the sec. senator shelby? >> thank you, mr. chairman. chairman gensler, according to the mf global bankruptcy trustee, as much as $1.2 billion is, or more of customer funds are missing from the cftc, are missing there. where's the cftc as a regulator, where have you been there? and secondly, do you know where the must money is? >> senator, as not participating in the matters, it may be
appropriate -- >> why are you not participating? >> um -- >> for the record. >> absolutely, sir. i think it's a good question. though the attorneys at the cftc, the chief ethics officer and the general counsel had indicated to me that they didn't see a reason, legal or ethical reasons for me not to participate, i reached out to them that week as it turned to an enforcement matter and before we had our first closed-door surveillance meetings. we have closed-door surveillance meetings every friday and have or for 30-plus years and said i didn't want my participation to be a distraction, there had already been some questions, from this important matter. >> are you not participating because of a prior relationship with the chairman of mf global, jon corzine? >> i had left wall street 14 years earlier, but i had participated with this committee, actually, with paul sarbanes -- >> i understand. >> -- on the dodd -- no, that
was called sarbanes-oxley. >> but did you recuse yourself because of your relationship past or present with the chairman of the mf global, mr. corzine? >> i indicated to our general counsel that thursday, november 3rd, that i thought that i didn't want my participation to be a distraction -- >> so the answer is, yes? or no? wait a minute, wait a minute. i asked you a question. are you recuse -- did you recuse yourself from fieldings dealing with the mf global because of your prior relationship with mr. corzine way back 14 year ago or currently, a combination? >> well, it might even have been broader. i just didn't want to be a distraction because i had been at the same firm, and he had been my boss -- >> well, you thought you might have a conflict or the perception of one, is that right? >> no. what the lawyers had told me pretty straightforward was there was no reason that i needed to not participate. but as it turned to an
enforcement matter and an investigation about these very important matters because it's critical to find out where the money was, i didn't want my participation to be a distraction from the -- there's excellent career staff at the cftc. >> let me ask you another question. >> sure. >> since you've been chairman of the cftc, as the chairman of mf global -- has the chairman of mf global contacted you or the cftc regarding the regulation of mf global in any way? >> um, i don't know about his contacts with the rest of the agency. there was one courtesy meeting -- >> wait a minute. >> -- at the very beginning -- >> so you had a meeting, there was a meeting there. you call it a courtesy meeting. but you had a meeting with the chairman of mf global, mr. corzine, right? >> there was a courtesy meeting when he took the job -- >> after the meeting -- excuse me, i don't mean to be rude, but
i'm getting to the point. was the meeting at cftc? >> yes. >> and was it after mr. corzine became chairman of mf global? >> yes, it was, sir. >> then what did that have to do with him taking the job, meeting with you or meeting with your staff or members? >> he was head of an agency, head of a company, and he came by, and there was staff and myself there, yes, in the spring of 2010. >> did you or any of the staff ever have any conversation, dialogue or interaction with mr. corzine regarding the regulation of what he could do and not do at mf global? >> well, as reported on our web site, there was one general call -- >> well, now, i'm not interested in reporting on the web site. just tell us what happened. >> well, it was a broader thing. in july of this year, there was reaching out as part of the 1100
meetings that we've had on the dodd-frank rulemaking, one of them included cftc staff, myself -- it was a telephone call -- about this rule about investment of customer funds. in so you had a meeting there regarding the chairman of the mf global, right? >> that's correct. conducted by telephone, that's correct. >> now, my last follow up is part of my first question to you because my time's limited. do you or the cftc, do you know where the $1.2 billion is today? >> [inaudible] >> if you don't know, why don't you know? >> senator, we're working closely with the forensics accountants that have been hired by the trustee to try to locate any missing customer funds. we continue to work through those issues, but, um, we have not located all the funds that are missing. but we continue --
>> so the answer is you don't know where the money is. >> that's right. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> it's so convenient to listen to c-span anytime, anywhere with the free c-span radio app. you get streaming audio of c-span radio as well as all three c-span television networks 24/7. you can also listen to our interview programs including q&a, news makers, "the communicators" and qualify after words." c-span, it's available wherever you are. find out more at c-span.org/radio app. >> tomorrow morning on "washington journal" bloomberg business week staff writer drake bennett on his article about behavioral economics, about the study of how psychology effects how people make financial decisions. you can find a link to the article on our web site, c-span.org. and mr. bennett takes your phone calls tomorrow morning at 9:15 a.m. eastern on c-span.
senate democrats yesterday unveiled a proposal to extend the payroll tax cut. it expires at the end of the month. democrats want to continue the tax cut and pay for wit a 1.9% surtax on people with annual incomes of over a million dollars. a little after 2 p.m. eastern we're expecting to hear from senate democratic and republican leaders about the tax cut and other issues before the senate. right now a conversation about the tax cut with georgia republican senator johnny isakson. >> and we're back with senator johnny isakson, republican of georgia, joining us from the russell rotunda up on capitol hill. let me given with this latest compromise that was put forward yesterday, they're calling it a compromise by senate democrats. senator casey of pennsylvania said that this latest proposal on extending the payroll tax holiday would be paid for by fees on freddie mac and fannie
mae and including a surtax on millionaires. what do you think? >> guest: well, it also takes away the low oring of the payroll -- lowering of the payroll tax for the employer and only passes it on to the employee, so that's another factor in the compromise. fannie and freddie really need the money to pay the taxpayer out for the bailout including a tax on small business owners, people that receive over a million dollars or small businesses who are incorporated as a c corp. or an llc. so it still has some of the fundamental problems with the previous bill, but it is an improvement, and i congratulate senator casey on the improvement. >> host: does that mean you could possibly vote yes on this? >> guest: means i'm going to study it today. my first reading was at 6:30 in the morning, so i'm going to give myself the rest of the day. [laughter] >> guest: all right, maybe a little more coffee. you did vote last week against the democratic proposal as well as the gop proposal put forward by your leader in the senate,
mitch mcconnell. are you willing to let the tax, the payroll tax holiday expire? >> guest: well, you know, it was a temporary benefit, alleged benefit that would hopefully bring the economy back, just like the $300 per-person payment that george bush passed in 2007 was an attempt to bring the economy back. neither one of those worked, and i think it's pretty obvious the payroll tax holiday of a year ago has not worked to change the economy because our economic figures are about the same. one of the things we're into is when you go into extending things, they end up being permanent, and it's trust fund -- social security trust fund's going broke sooner. when you lower the payments, you lower the benefits you'll receive down the line, so there are long-term consequences to fooling around temporarily with the social security trust fund in something that may become permanent. so we have to be very careful as policymakers and lawmakers.
>> host: as you know, lamb yesterday pushed for an extension of the payroll tax holiday. here's what he had to say about republicans, like yourself, who have refused to vote for it so far. >> now, i know many republicans have sworn an oath never to raise taxes as long as they live. how could it be that the only time there's a catch is when it comes to raising taxes on middle class families? how can you fight tooth and nail to protect high-end tax breaks for the wealthiest americans, and yet barely lift a finger to prevent taxes going up for 160 million americans who really need the help? >> host: senator isakson? >> guest: well, this is the grover norquist game that both sides are playing very heavily right now. the president's, obviously, playing on the no tax increase pledge. this was a temporary reduction of the payroll tax, it was not a permanent reduction, so i don't consider it a tax increase at all just like i don't consider reforming the income tax code
and doing away with any number of tax treatments and lowering the rates to be a tax increase. i think we've gotten ourselves too locked in, and i'll be the first to admit that's one of the problems that all of us as politicians have. we make decisions in elections and take pledges and promises in a time that's different from the time when we serve. and right now we're in a different time that we've never been in in this country. we're on a precipice we could fall off of. everybody has got to wipe the slate clean, get our spending down and reform our entitlement programs. we've all got to belly up to the bar, so to speak, and to what's right for the american people. our country is too great to let it dissipate and be destroyed internally by failure of the elected officials to do what they need to do. >> host: senator, you signed the grover norquist pledge to not raise taxes. you don't see this as a violation of that pledge? >> guest: no, no more than i see when i voted to repeal the ethanol tax credit which grover considered a tax increase. you know, it's easy to sit on
the sidelines and make editorial comments about your interpretation of what is or isn't an increase or a decrease. it's quite another to take the oath of office in the united states senate and to uphold the constitution of the united states of america. that is supreme for me. >> host: and just to be clear, grover norquist was quoted last week as saying he, too, does not see this extension as necessarily a tax increase himself. >> guest: well, i think everybody must be looking more thoughtfully now in terms of the interpretation of what that is or isn't. >> host: this is the national review who wrote in the an editorial that they think the payroll tax cut holiday should be extended, and they said this about your arguments on social security: almost any large tax cut --
>> guest: was that not a bad argument? i didn't quite hear the last part. >> host: they said -- right. the cost of social security is not a valid argument against the payroll tax cut holiday. >> guest: well, i respect everybody's judgment. the one thing you have to remember is the trust fund is full of ious where the u.s. government is telling the u.s. government it's going to take the money out and borrow, then it's going to pay it back. so ultimately, it does have fiscal impact, but i respect their opinion. >> host: the third objection is that the payroll tax cut has been ineffective at creating jobs. here again, holdout republicans have a double standard -- >> guest: well, that's a little bit of a, an unfair comparison. i respect where they're coming
from, but the tax reform package that was passed in 2001 or 2002 in the bush administration was a very comprehensive reform which in its infancy and during its teenage years and adolescent si worked fine, and then we got into a recession which was not tax driven, but was driven by external forces. that's why i said in the beginning with regard to grover norquist's pledge, when you make a change or pledge in one economic environment where it looks good and all of a sudden the economic environment changed and the change you made doesn't look so good, we are not in a static world anymore. we're in a world where things change, and we have to be able to respond to it. >> host: all right. rhonda is our first phone call here for you, senator. she's a democrat in freehold, new jersey. you're on the air. >> caller: thank you and good morning. >> guest: good morning. >> caller: i would like to ask you, senator, why do republicans hate poor people and the middle class? you know, i truly feel that
their persistence to overthrow president obama has led you guys to believe that society doesn't matter. you know, i know a lot of republicans, and they are all feeling this. i mean, they feel like you're putting, putting your ideological -- well, your thoughts or whatever you guys are trying to do before the betterment of this country. it's awful. it is absolutely awful. people are struggling -- >> host: all right, rhonda, we got your point. senator? >> guest: well, i don't hate anybody, and i don't know anybody in the congress that really hates anybody. l so m people say some pretty hateful things sometimes, but i have the greatest respect for all the american people. i was in business, my father was a greyhound bus driver when i was born, i understand the middle class, and i certainly understand it's the strength of the united states of america. and we are all in this together.
and corporate america's got to do its fair share, and those that make a higher income have got to do their fair share. we have a progressive income tax system now that charges more on higher tax level as incomes go up, and we have programs like earned income tax credits where you actually pay people who are in the low income earning area a subsidy where they pay no tax and don't get an earned income tax credit. so if you look at the current tax system that we have, it reflects a positive outlook on the middle dallas -- class. i don't think it's a matter of hate, i think it's a matter of deciding what's best for the united states of america and all of our people. we need businesses and business owners to produce the jobs so the middle class can exist, and we need the middle class to have the rights to represent itself like unionization and things of that nature. it's the fabric that we've blended together in the united states right now, and we're under difficult stress because of economic conditions, some under our control, some not under our control.
but we're a country that ultimately, comes together in the worst of times. this economically is one of those worst of times. i think we're going to come together. >> host: senator isakson, on the politics of this washington times front page has this headline, "obama seizes advantage on the payroll tax cut; jobless benefits added as wedge against the gop." do you see that the politics of this are in favor of the democrats and the president? >> guest: well, let me answer that another way. last week when i voted existence republican -- against the republican proposal and the democratic proposal, i voted against it because i thought politics, republican and democrat, was driving the decision and not what was in the best interests of the american people. so if president and our leadership play that game, then i'm not going to support either one because it's time we do what's right for the american people. >> host: what do you make of mitch mcconnell, the leader in the senate, yesterday -- excuse me, last week saying there's a lot of sentiment in our conference, clearly a majority sentiment for continuing the
payroll tax relief that we enacted a year ago in these tough times? >> guest: i think he's correct. i think -- well, i don't know whether it's clearly a majority. everybody wants to do the right thing economically for the country and the right thing for the middle class, for small business and for all tax-paying americans. i think mitch is right in terms of that representation of our conference. >> host: so will there be an agreement, then, a compromise on extending a payroll tax cut holiday? >> guest: i'm going to make a guess and say there probably will, but i haven't had a chance to talk to my colleagues since the offer came out last night from senator reid and senator casey, and we haven't had a meeting yet this morning. i can only tell you that it would be my guess that we're getting closer to agreement that could be passed by both sides, but i don't know that to be the case. >>st and you might be a yes vote on that. >> guest: as i told you, i haven't had a chance to think through my second cup of coffee. i'm going to wait and see what
all the ramifications are, but what i just said is, i think, probably the case, that we are moving closer towards a settlement. >> host: okay. shirley a republican in new hampshire, you're next. >> caller: yes. i'm kind of saying to myself that if i had a budget problem in my home which i don't have very much money, but i would cut back at least a little on everything that i had to buy. why is it that we cannot just take 1% of everything that we have committed to -- social security, money going to africa, help in china every place by 1% -- what would that do if we did not increase our budget, declined it by 1%, what would it do to our indebtedness? >> guest: well, you're a very insightful lady. there's a proposal that's been out for about the last 18 months that's filed in the senate and the house called the one cent solution. and what it portends is we go to
a 1% decrease in spending every year for seven years which by compounding gets you to a 10% reduction in spending over ten years and movement towards a balanced budget. that's kind of another form of sequestration like what was done in the bill last, that we did in august, but it was disproportionate sequestration. so i think the caller has an excellent suggestion, and i want to compliment her on one other thing. in fact, i use a line in all my speeches that is really true. my family, my children, everybody i know in the last four years has had to sit around their kitchen table, reprioritize their spending because of the economy, because of economics and because of what's happened. it's about time that the government of the united states of america did what every american citizen has been forced to do. we need the i inspiration of desperation, we need to sit down, find the money, reduce our spending, reform our tax code and get ourselves back in fiscal
prosperity. >> host: we'll go to ron in indiana next. >> caller: senator, i have three questions here. first of all, earlier it was mentioned you pledged to grover norquist. do you serve grover nor norquist or the american people? >> guest: no, i signed a pledge, but i signed my allegiance to the people of the united states and the constitution when i was sworn into the senate. >> caller: i see. so this pledge to grover norquist, how does that come into play? >> guest: it's something that you consider, but you consider the immediate sense that you're in. as i said, right now you can say anything a time where one circumstance exists and then get to a whole different time. that's why we have an oath of office to the senate. it forces you to be perspective, not retrospective to some commitment you made in the past. i think it's very important to keep taxes low, everybody's taxes, middle class and the like, but i think it's also important to say as a republican if we're at a situation where we need to reform the tax code, so be it, we ought to reform the tax code, and i think that time's come.
>> guest: you mentioned that you had to sit down with your family and reassess your budget. i'm wondering, how much money did you receive from corporate lobbyists and corporate organizations? >> guest: i didn't receive any money from corporate lobbyists for my family. >> host: here's a tweet that says please remind the senator that the bush tax cuts were intentionally temporary as well. where does he stand on ending them? >> guest: well, i was a part of those negotiations, and what happened is we had a pretty balanced, divided congress between republicans and democrats. the president proposed a permanent change to our tax code although i would enter into this debate at this point in time the last gentleman's comments, we don't really do anything permanently in the congress of the united states of america except those things we swear our allegiance to in our oath of office. times change, circumstances are different. what happened in the negotiations over the bush tax cuts in 2003 or 2002 is with the end, some of those people who were scared they went too far
said we need a benchmark to get out and reassess whether or not this is right for the american people. so they put a sunset. when that sunset came up at the end of last year, president obama made a recommendation to extend them for two years and to have a payroll tax holiday for one year. i'm glad he decoupled that so we can have this debate now, but i think it's perfectly appropriate for us to have a readjustment and reevaluation of taxes and of expenditures. we ought to do both. we shouldn't lock them in forever. >> host: joanna, democratic caller, tallahassee, florida. >> caller: yeah. i have a question, and i was wondering why my property tax is rising every year. what would it be if churches would start paying property taxes? alone in leon county there are 650 churches, and on every corner almost one. what would the tax income be if all in america, the churches
would be paying property taxes? they're taking incomes from schools, they have incomes -- [inaudible] and christ didn't say they didn't have to pay taxes. >> host: okay, caller, we'll leave it there. senator, property taxes, i think that's more of a state issue, but if you want to comment. >> guest: well, property taxes are issued by the states and counties. you have any number of organizations, you have a lot of think tanks, 501c3 organizations that are tax exempt. they also have to meet a litmus test of not being politically active, that has been historic in our country for a long, long time. >> host: next to marsha in tennessee. >> caller: they keep calling these the bush tax cuts. the a democrat house, a democratic senate and obama that extended these. it was not the republicans that brought it up again, it was the democrats.
and we can cut the department of education where our kids now are dumber than they've ever been, we can cut epa, we can cut the agricultural department who is handing out $50,000 checks like candy at the back door, and it just makes people out here angry when we are all doing without and cutting back, and we see y'all playing games with our money up there like it's just nothing. and we know the more you get in, the more you're going to spend. and these people don't understand. they're getting this payroll tax cut. i'm on social security. it's hard enough to live on social security. they are just cutting what they're going to get when they retire. >> host: senator? >> guest: well, she is, the lady is exactly right that cutting spending is first and foremost what we need to do. secondly, we need to have a level playing field in terms of regulation. if you have a combination of fair and equitable cuts in spending, and i mean tough cuts in certain cases, we've got to tighten our belts, if you have some type of regular environment
in terms of regulation, if you really look at reform of the entitlement in terms of future costs, you'll begin to raise the costs of revenue in america not because you raise the tax rate, but because you raised the opportunity to raise money in corporate america. we need to raise the expectations of american business and free enterprise and small business people, therefore, raising the revenues. a rising tide lifts all boats, and that's what we need to do in washington. >> host: senator, here's a tweet from one of our viewers, aaron r2000. he writes republicans are on the record as saying that tax cuts pay for themselves, so why aren't you for the payroll tax cuts free of charge? >> guest: well, once again, the payroll tax is a tax that goes into a trust fund to pay a benefit that is pledged to you who pays the payroll tax. it is not a tax to fund the general revenues of the united states of america. so it's just like your retirement. if you have a retirement plan in your company, or if you bought an annuity for your retirement,
you pay money into that in return to receive money in the future. it's a whole different ball game than tax revenues to fund the expenditures of the country. >> host: don, you're next for the senator. >> caller: senator, yesterday mr. kyl was on the floor talking about the amounts that the rich or the wealthy pay. but at no time did he mention their effective tax rate. their effective tax rate after they took off all of their deductions and everything, and according to the irs in 2006 the 400 richest taxpayers earned on average $345 million each and paid an effective rate of 16.6%. in 2008 that percent was 18%. the real point is not the gross amount that they pay in. the point is the effective tax rate. and most of the rich people in this country, the top one-tenth
of 1%, earned 50% of their earnings from capital gains and dividends. capital gains and dividends. now, i, you know, i have a problem. i'm with stockmen who believes that what we should start doing is paying earned income on capital gains and dividends, especially for these top taxpayers. because all of their money is paid in that way, and they are, in effect, have a flat rate. and that flat rate they begin at is capital gains and dividends. >> guest: okay. well, first of all, an income tax rate, i want to go back to what i said earlier because you and i have a common belief. you know, if president obama had not -- and the republicans both -- had not abandoned the simpson-bowles report last december, it would have raised the effective tax rate on the upper end to 24-26% and corporate america included by reducing the number of tax treatments for deductions, low
and income moderate housing tax credit, energy tax credit, all those types of things which lower the effective rate. if you had a simple rate and not so many -- you would raise the rate, and american business would be for it. fedex has said give me a flat, straight tax with no gimmicks, and i'll pay it in a heartbeat. it'll make me more competitive. now, in terms of the capital gains and dividends, you have to think twice about one thing. dividends are the second bite of the apple in terms of taxation. that money is taxed originally as a profit to the corporation, then it's tax today the individual who gets the dividend. it's taxed twice and then it's taxed a third time on the estate tax. secondly, it portends that you will make your money, make an investment on a business that you hope will be successful, and if it is, you pay a tax rate commensurate to that. and if it doesn't, you lose all
your money. it's not like a salary, it's like a risk that you take. so on both of those treatments you have to be very careful to demagogue them without first of all understanding why they are where they are. dividends are taxed twice at least, third time on estate taxes, and capital gains is a risk investment. you make the investment. if it doesn't pay, you lose all your money which is a horrible tax. >> host: ruth, a republican in mobile, alabama. >> >> caller: good morning. >> guest: good morning. >> caller: i don't really have a question, i just want to say that i think the grover norquist issue has accomplished its need. it's made everyone, i think, more aware of the need to spend less, and the main way is to have a limit on how much money comes in. >> host: senator, would you agree with that assessment? >> guest: i think anybody that proposes any side of an issue helps us to come to a consensus, i think the lady's exactly
right, and please tell her i hope the gardens is still as beautiful in mobile as it was the last time i was. >> host: bonnie, a democrat in middletown, new jersey. >> caller: good morning. >> guest: good morning. >> caller: the true cancer on our economy is crony capitalism. capitalism works just fine, but it needs competition and regulations, other side it begins to -- otherwise it begins to eat its own. we've seen 147 mull lty national corporations, but now pretty much own the world. and it's an insane tax code that we have, a regressive tax code that we have at this point. it's also, well, the outcome is now that the disparity of wealth in our nation puts us on an equivalent level to nepal and rwanda. so, obviously, this trickle-side economics is not working. >> host: let's get a response from the senator.
>> guest: well, i'm not one, as you can tell from my answers, that demonizes anyone. just as i respect and atore the middle class and try and fight for them, i appreciate those who are making investments of their money, make the products that they sell to us to make our lives better, corporate america. there are lots of great corporations that do so much for our uncan both in terms of charitable investments as well as taxes they pay. yes, there are some bad actors, good examples of people who have gone the wrong way, and i think each one of them ought to pay the consequence, but i don't demonize corporate america anymore than any part of our society what you ought to do is reward those who are doing right, hold those who are doing wrong accountable. >> host: fred, an independent. >> caller: hi. just to follow up on the senator's last comment. good morning, senator. >> guest: good morning. >> caller: you said you believed that those people that do certain things should be held
accountable like with the finance, you mentioned bernie madoff. don't you think that, personally, you know, i'm a working class guy, and the payroll tax maybe every two weeks got me an extra coffee and danish. but shouldn't we focus our energy maybe on the banks here and getting the attorney general to send mr. madoff some roommates? >> guest: oh, i don't think there's any question we need to pierce the corporate bail on a lot of things that have gone wrong and make sure we get to the root of the problem which were the decision makers that made the conscious decision to do what they did that brought the companies down. the financial meltdown was a terrible situation, and it was an accumulation of a number of bad decisions of people that should be held accountable both in the government as well as in the private sector. >> host: senator. the financial times this morning has this headline: "pressure rises to shift burden of those automatic cuts" because the deficit reduction committee, that so-called supercommittee
did not get to a deal, the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts will go forward. do you support that? should that happen? >> guest: should the automatic sequestration happen? >> host: right. >> guest: well, if we don't make the cuts in the congress, then it's going to have to happen. you know, there have got to be consequences to bad action and inaction. i'm one of the five republicans that voted for the commission bowles-simpson commission to be created. i think we ought to put that commission's recommendations on the table. it has $4 trillion in cuts in entitlement reform and in tax reform. it's the only comprehensive proposal that has been made. we ought to put those on the table rather than reject our responsibility and have automatic sequestration. but if we don't, then sequestration is the only answer. >> host: maryland, donna, republican. go ahead. >> guest: senator isakson, you were co-sponsor of a bill with senator cardin, senate bill 488, dealing with excess interests on
fha mortgages. do you remember that? >> guest: i do, yes, sir. >> caller: um, i have -- i'm from maryland. senator cardin seems to have dropped any interest in this even though there was an article in "the washington post" about it. i can't even get a return phone call. i have a feeling that the lobbyists have gotten ahold of him, the banker lobbyists. consumers were paying interests on fha mortgages after the mortgage is paid off, and it could be real money back in people's pockets, it would be money taken away from the bankers. who in your office can i talk to to get this revitalized and maybe attached to one of these bills that's going through now? >> guest: you're talking to me. my number's 202-224-3643, give us a call, but i know of no lobbying against the proposal. >> host: next phone call, lyle, an independent in minnesota.
go ahead. >> caller: yeah, good morning. i would respectfully disagree with one statement the senator made, and he said the capital gains tax is from investments. back in the '80s and '90s, the high-paid executives started receiving bonuses in the form of stock options. they would write these bonuses up, and they'd pay, they would get four or five million dollars a year in salary, but they would probably get 80, $90 million in capital gains from those bonuses that they were cashing in in the form of stock options. now, a bonus is something in addition to your income, and they should have been taxed and should be taxed at the total tax rate of the total income. why has this not been talked about, and why hasn't something been done about this? this is why the super high
earners are paying a lousy 16, 17% effective tax rate. >> guest: first of all, i pardon my cold, i've got a little cough, and i can't get rid of it, i apologize. i hate to cough in the microphone. let's carry it to the full conclusion. they are given stock options which they have to exercise by buying the stock at a fixed price, and at the time they do, they have a taxable event. and if stock goes down, they lose the money that they pay taxes on, so there are some consequences to that as well, but the gentleman makes a good point. >> host: warren, a democratic caller in chicago. >> caller: good morning. um, i wanted to, the senator to address, um, the loopholes that the corporations are using by shipping jobs overseas, escaping some of the taxes that they have
to address if they were stateside. could you, please, answer that? >> guest: i don't know what loophole attracts people to send jobs overseas. i do know that there have been jobs that have gone overseas because of the effects of regulation domestically in the united states, but i don't know of any tax loophole except -- and, excuse me, the gentleman makes a good call. except for the fact that profits made offshore are not taxed until they're brought into the country. and right now we have a punitive tax rate at 35% on repatriated funds. if both john kennedy and george w. bush were right and they were when they put in repatriation for offshore profits and had a tax benefit to bring them in, we'd have a lot more capital coming into our country, so the gentleman makes a good point on that end. >> host: senator, we have about ten minutes left with you.
we'll go to another phone call and let you get a good cough in. donna in ann arbor, michigan. go ahead. >> this is from earlier today. we're going live to capitol hill to hear from senate democratic leaders after party lunches. >> republicans are doing their best to convince the american public that they support the payroll tax cut, that they're not in favor of raising taxes for middle class americans, about 160 million of them. but what a strange way of proving that's how they feel. we saw what happened on the senate floor last week. the proposal that they made didn't even get a majority of the republicans. yesterday republicans criticized our plan, our revised plan and they hadn't even read it. if they'd taken time to read the legislation, they would have seen that, basically, every piece in there is bipartisan in nature.
including now the tax on millionaires. so it, unless there's something changes quickly, it doesn't seem the republicans are going to follow their leadership. leader mcconnell, speaker boehner both said they support extending the payroll tax cut. i repeat, funny way of showing it, the way they've been legislating or nonlegislating. we can't afford the to let the extreme voices in the republican party force a thousand dollar a year tax increase for the middle class. fortunately, there's a small group of republicans who are beginning to speak out to do the right thing. susan collins, of course, we know what she's done. we've had public statements made last week by pat roberts and johanns saying it's about time -- i'm paraphrasing this -- that the people who are making a lot of money help solve some of
the problems we have in the country. so i'm happy to see democrats and republicans at least talking the right way. i've been encouraged to see republicans expressing more optimism about ways to pay for these problems that we have. i talked about johanns, he said, and i quote: i sense a change in mood when it comes to asking millionaires to pay their fair share. for the sake of the middle class, i certainly hope the senator from nebraska's right. >> [inaudible] >> progress is being made. we've had a lot of staff work and a significant amount of member work on this with the chairman and ranking members.
um, we still have a ways to go can. there were 113 different riders, or i refer to them as earmarks that we've eliminated quite a few of them. and we're continuing to work on them. it's very important we get this bill done as soon as we can. we don't, do not want to have another continuing resolution, and speaker boehner has told me that's how he feels also. [inaudible conversations] >> i hope so. i don't have any reason to say they won't. i'm confident they will. but, you know, let's talk about cord ray. i listened to my friend, the republican leader, talk about cord ray and the judges, i'm sure glad we're going to have a vote on this and words to that effect. well, we're not having a vote on it. these are cloture votes so we can't have a vote. so i -- and always understand, in the private sector or in the government if somebody suggests
a committee, you'll know that something's gone wrong. and that's what he has suggested, in effect, we don't want one person making all the decisions, we want a committee making those decisions. and that's why the republicans are wrong on that. [inaudible conversations] >> [inaudible] >> i'm very disappointed that he was not approved. we have been making some progress on the judges. we still have far too many that are still on the calendar. but we, i just think we have a different outlook on d.c. circuit court. they want all republicans there. and that's not fair. [inaudible]
>> jobless benefits, we have to do that. it's really important. there are two things that will really hurt the economy if we don't do them, is extending the payroll tax cuts and extending the unemployment compensation. i, i believe strongly that we have to do something with sgr, the so-called doc fix. this is not something to get the doctors a big, fat present, it's something we have to do. this was, the reason we're in the hole we're in now, this was a budget gimmick that was done during the bush years. we have got to get away from that. as senator kyl said, it's all monopoly money, and we should use the overseas contingency fund the pay for that. i hope that's, in fact, what senator kyl and baucus work out. >> [inaudible]
getting any of this -- >> we are not going to leave washington until we pass the extenders and pass the, um, extenders payroll tax cut. we have to do something with the, um, payroll tax cut, unemployment compensation, omnibus, and i'm missing one thing. anyway, there's five things we have to do. before we leave. >> with absolutely have to do -- >> yes, we do. >> and you will not leave washington until they're done? >> i don't intend to. >> senator reid, when do you plan to bring up your latest proposal on the payroll tax extensions for floor votes? >> we'll probably do that on friday. i can't do anything on that until tomorrow. hopefully, the republicans will come forward with some proposals. they have been totally silent. as you learned, probably, earlier today the house isn't even going to try to do anything this week. they've given up. so that's not a good sign. thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> [inaudible]
>> on what? >> balanced budget amendment? we're going to have that before we go. that's not a must-do, we're going to do it because that's what the law says, but it won't take much time. >> [inaudible] >> i'm going to do it, i'll get it this morning. >> [inaudible] [inaudible conversations] >> we want to stay here live at the u.s. capitol to see if republican leaders come to the microphone after their party lunches. the senate is also expected to come back in momentarily. we heard a senate majority leader reid talking about the democratic proposal to extend the payroll tax cut. going live now to the u.s. senate, senator bill nelson of florida is speaking. nearly two years. alan gross was working in cube around a contract with the u.s. agency for international development.
he has devoted his career to helping thousands of people around the world working in development for over 25 years in more than 50 countries. in cuba, alan gross was trying to make a difference in the eyes of people who share his jewish faith by bringing them modern communication tools. and for that simple act, he has now languished in a cuban prison for two years. his health worsens each day. his family, of course, misses him. his wife, judy, just spoke to him just days ago and said that alan sounded more hopeless and more depressed. as you would expect. mr. president, the release of alan gross must remain front and center in any discussion with or
about the cuban regime. and that's why many of us in this chamber have joined in writing to our ambassador -- the ambassador of cuba here, since we don't have diplomatic relations, is called the chief of the cuban interest section, and asking the castro gentleman jeem tcastro regime toimmediatey release alan gross as a humanitarian gesture and a sign of compassion for his family. and yet we are met with stonewalling silence. mr. president, while we remember mr. gross and we keep pressure on the castro regime, the senate must also fulfill its duties toward the rest of the western
hemisphere. and a case in point, four countries in latin america are currently without a u.s. ambassador. that's the job of this senate, to confirm appointments of the president. venezuela, bolivia, nicaragua, and ecuador. now, the case of venezuela, it's not because we don't have a nominee. it's because, in fact, we're having some trouble with the chavez government and we've been without an assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs since july. now, this isn't in the interest of the united states not to have these people in place. and so we have basically two weeks to go if we get out a week before the christmas holiday.
that's an "if," by the way. so during this time, while we go through all the things that we have to do, such as solving the doctors' problem, such as extending this payroll tax cut, such as appropriations bills, such as extending unemployment compensation for people who desperately need it, and such as extending a lot of the tax extenders. so while we go through all of this in the next, what, ten legislative days, then we also must fulfill our constitutional duty to consider these important presidential appointments.
and there's one right in front of the senate right now, the ambassador to el salvador. mauri car men elponte. she is the ambassador to el salvador. she's known all over the united states in hispanic circle because she has held a number of foreign service officers, a number of posts. and during the august 2010 congressional recess, the president named her ambassador to el salvador. that recess appointment is going to expire at the end of this year. before joining the state department, she served as expect active director of the puerto rican federal affairs administration and president of
the very respected hispanic national bar association. typical sentiment in florida, expressed in a recent "miami herald" editorial that supported her confirmation, saying that -- quote -- "her diplomatic success has earned her unprecedented support of the private sector and of most prominent political leaders in el salvador." mr. president, it was unprecedented that three former presidents of el salvador came all the way to washington to show their support during her nomination hearing. my wife, grace, and i were recently visited by the first lady of el salvador, and what
she pointed out, of all of these terrible events and her country struggling to recover from the tropical depression that made the landfall this past fall, the heavy rains caused major damage throughout central america and 70,000 salvadorans are living in shelters. and that little country faces many challenges. so if for no other reason, we don't need to continue after the end of the year not to have an ambassador. we need to confirm mrs. aponte as soon as possible so that she continue exercising the necessary u.s. leadership. latin american countries continue to be america's fastest-growing trade partners.
we need to continue to promote that trade. it helps our economy. it deepens the economic linkag linkages. we can explore clean energy initiatives, and we can help them as they continue to strengthen transparency in government and the rule of law. we need to pay more attention to latin america, not less. disengagement is not the answer. so this is just another reason, mr. president, that we need to confirm this nomination as quickly as possible for the ambassador to el salvador. mr. president, i yield the floor.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: mr. president, request the proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without t objection, so ordered. ms. murkowski: mr. president, i rise today to honor a gentleman, john katz. john is a longtime public servant to the state of alaska who is set to retire at year's end. john has served alaska for more than 40 years, working for eight different governors, republican and democrats, liberals and
conservatives. he once said that he was comfortable serving so many different governors because the issues for alaska were consistent, whether they be responsible resource developme development, state sovereignty, federal assistance with infrastructure. the one constant figure connecting one administration after the next over eight administrations, the one constant figure has been john katz. john started his career as a high school teacher and coach in baltimore city public schools back in 1966 following his graduation from johns hopkins university. in 1969, he earned his law degree from the university of california at berkeley, and then he moved to alaska to work as a legislative and administrative assistant to congressman pollick and then later for senator ted stevens. john has truly played many crucial roles for the state of
alaska. he served for several years as the council to the joint federal-state land use planning commission for the state of alaska. he served as special counsel to governor jay hammond back in 1979, advocating the state's position on the alaska national interest land conservation act, or anilca, to congress. two years after that, he was appointed commissioner of natural resources by governor hammond. and then in 1983, john was sent by governor bill sheffield to head alaska's washington, d.c., office, and he has served as the liaison between the state and the federal government for the past 28 years. pretty remarkable record, if you would consider it. as alaskans, we know how important his role has been in bridging the very considerable gap between our state and the federal government. a key role when more than 60% of
alaska's lands is controlled by the federal government. now, you could refer to john as alaska's fourth congressman. his 40-year tenure in the league of late senator stevens and representative don young. john's breadth of knowledge understand anding of haas laws's issues has guided him in his very unique role. since entering public service, john has been involved in key issues, such as the passage of the landmark alaska native claims settlement act back in 1971. the legislation in 1976 which extended america's fishery zones to 200 miles, which allowed for the americanization of alaska's fishing fleet. and there was also the passage back in 1980 of the national conservation act, the nation's largest conservation lands measure. there was the alaska railroad transfer act back in 1983, the
tongass timber reform act in 1990, and 30 other major pieces of legislation and hundreds of amendments that have greatly affected the lives of all alaskans. now, what is so remarkable about john is that there is no alaskan public policy issue that he did not master. a pretty incredible feat there. but no alaska public policy issue that he did not have his fingerprints on, involved with, or really have a mastery of. in 1972, served for two years on the executive viesry committee of the federal power commission, making decisions on electricity generation during a period of rapid population growth in alaska. in 1974 he published a legal analysis of the alaska native claims settlement act and how it should impact native alaskans for the joint federal-state
planned use planning commission. and five years later he served on the hard rock mineral commission of alaska helping to chart the course for the rebirth of our state's mineral industry. there is seemingly no alaska issue that is too complex or dawngts for john katz. i first met john, it was probably somewhere in the early 1980's. at the time i was a staffer in the office of the speaker of the alaska house of representatives in jun ju juneau. his intellectual present prowess was shown whether casual conversation or a detailed policy analysis. former governor tony knowles called him -- quote -- "one of the most remarkable public servants i've ever dealt with."
governor hammond during the lengthy debate over anilca called him "truly indispensable." and senator stevens once said -- and this is his quote -- "he is as near a genius as i've seen." i would clearly agree with that. some of his coworkers have even jokingly called him their own human google machine, noting that in many cases it was just more efficient, easier to walk down the hall to ask john for legal and policy background, save them hours of research. and john just had it all there, just instant recall and precise as it could possibly be. throughout his career, john served effectively and quietly, always preferring to work in the background, never seeking that limelight. he always presented every side of the issue. never telling any of his
superiors simply what they might have wanted to hear. he truly was the consummate professional, a man who never got a fact wrong in a briefing, in a discussion, or in a political strategy session. and that may have been at least one of the many reasons why he has been so honored during his career, receiving the alaska federation of natives highest honor which is the denali award, winning commonwealth north's walter j. hick l award for distinguished public policy leadership and receiving more resolutions, commendation and praise than most in alaska's history. john has built a reputation as an alaskan institution, always loyally serving our beloved state. he championed oil exploration in the arctic national wildlife refuge noting the potential benefits for not only alaska's
economy but, more important, for america's overall economic and national security. and while john has listed the failures so far to persuade congress to open anwr as perhaps one of his biggest disappointments, he has always, always stood by the factually solid arguments for opening anwr, never letting his passionate advocacy of opening the coastal get in the way of objectively presenting the arguments to members of congress. i think it is important to note john's statement in his resignation letter to governor parnell. he stated the following "professionally, i have become increasingly discouraged by the polarization and deterioration of the public policy process at the federal level. it's the worst i've seen during my 43-year career."
that was a statement in john's resignation note. and as someone who has relied on john's wise counsel and his wisdom during my eight years here in the united states senate, i think that this is a poignant remark about the state of affairs in congress today. the debate surrounding our politics has i think grown more cause stick, while ignoring the fact that while we all may take different positions, we all ultimately vowr nation's interest at heart -- have our nation's interest at heart. john leaves an he is skeed steamed legacy that will -- as esteemed legacy that will benefit alaska for years to come. he is what a public servant should be. and alaska will deeply, deeply miss his presence. i know that i speak for all alaskans i in sincerely thanking
john for his years of service and pragmatic approach to faithfully serving the state of eafnlg i wish him nothing but the best in the future for all of his endeavors. with that, mr. president, i thank you. i yield the floor, and i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll . a senator: i would ask that the call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: mr. president, i rise about the most important job that faces the senate and the remainder of the year, that is extending the unemployment benefits for millions of americans struggling to find a jofnlt i wish i didn't have to be down here talking about this today, i wish it weren't necessary to debate whether we should continue the federal unemployment insurance program. i wish everyone in this chamber would acknowledge that the recovery is still a work in progress and that we would agree about the critical need to continue to support struggling workers and their families.
we've never failed to extend benefits in the past when unemployment was this high. but unfortunately in today's hyperpartisan atmosphere, even the most commonsense policy can turn into political footballs. the unemployment insurance program seems to be no exception. the extreme right son the attack blaming the victims who have been the hardest hit by this economic crisis. in the same breath that they push pour more cuts in corporate taxes and cuts in taxes to high-income individuals, republican leaders argue that we can't afford to extend unemployment benefits for people who are struggling to find a job. congresswoman back madam chairwoman, candidate for president, recently went so far as to say, and i quote, "if anyone will not work, neither should he eat." in an economy where there are four unemployment workers for every available job, the cruelty of that comment is simply astonishing. there are 13 million
unemployment americans right now. actually, i think the figure is probably a little bit higher than that. probably closer to maybe 16 million. they are desperately looking for any job they can find. many relying on unemployment benefits to put food on the table for their chin. 6 million americans will be cut off of this last lifeline if congress does not renew the benefits for the long-term unemployed. 6 million will be cut off during this holiday season. i hope no one in this body on either side of the aisle would say that they deserve this additional hardship during this holiday season. now, there are real people and real families behind these numbers. they are our friends and neighbors. i've heard from so many of these hardworking people from my home state of iowa and across the country. their stories are truly heartbreak #-g. a woman from des moines recently wrote me, and i quote, "i was laid off in july 2011. i recently attended a class at
the unemployment office in did he des moines where i was informed that my unemployment will cease as of december 31. if any extensions that are currently in place are discontinued. the average person is currently unemployed for 40 weeks, which is much longer than the 26 weeks that is available without any extensions. i was the main bred winner in our family and if my unemployment would cease before i find a job, we would be forced to be on welfare, we would be forced to be on food stamps and other government subsidies. we would also lose our home. i hope that you consider the many other people that are probably in the same situation as i am and i hope you will keep the current extensions in place." end quote. a woman from stanton, iowa, writes, and i quote, "i lost a great job in june of 2010 and have been receiving unemployment benefits since then.
if not for the unemployed benefits, i do not know how we would make it. i continue to look for a better-paying job but as you probably know, montgomery county has had the highest unemployment rate in iowa. it's been tough. i will appreciate your support in extending unemployment benefits as i continue my quest for a new position." end quote. mr. president, the main reason that folks need their benefits to continue is they simply cannot find new work, even after exhausting their benefits. there's simply not enough jobs in this struggling economy. how can we even think about abrumently terminating these benefits right now, cutting off the last lifeline that these americans in dire need need? a man fromesterville, iowa, wrote, "i woke up last week to find my benefits exhausted but no closer to finding a job. i do everything i can to find work but nothing material ios. age discrimination is rampant and there's nothing an
individual can do about it. right now after working since i was 12 years old, i'm facing hunger and hopelessness at 57 years of age. " a man from west des moines wrote, "i'm a home designer/architect and have been laid off three times since 2007 after working almost 16 years at one firm. i have now decided to go back to school to try to find a different career in information technology. i hate not having a job and want to work, but ness a just not anything out there in architecture. everyone seems to have circled the wagons and are not hiring. please help." a woman from madra writes, "i lost my job of 32 years two and a half years ago. i lived off my severance for the first year, then savings, then went on unemployment. now my unemployment has run out.
i have had a few interviews without any luck. i've been working part-time for minimum wage and i only get a 15 hours a week in. it's the only job that i could find." mr. president, this is just a sampling of the letters we get in our office. it is clear that people want to work. they desperately want to work. later this week the committee that i chair, the health and human services committee, will hold a hearing to look at the reasons why so many workers who want to work aren't able to get back to jobs quickly. we'll hear from workers, community leert leaders about te long-term unemployed, especially those over the age of 50. but there are some things we don't need an expert to tills. we know people can't find new jobs because there are so few jobs out there. as i said, right now more than 13 million to 16 million people
officially counted as actively looking for work. but that's an understatement. there are millions more people with part-time jobs of necessity who want full-time work. millions more on top of that who have basically stopped looking for work because they think a job search will be fruitless. they've already tried time and time gendz an they've given up. if they got a job, they'd take it. when you add them all up -- when you add up all of that plus a number of young people who have not entered the workforce, maybe they've looked for works, they can't find it, tear a young -- especially if they're young and african-american, when the unemployment rate soars to 30%, they're not counted as part of the unemployed because they've never had a job. but they're not counted. when you add up all that you're talking about nearly 28 million
unemployed and marginally employed people in america. there are many other barriers to reemployment. i talked about older workers. not only have many of them gone through the retirement savings, many have lost their home that they spent decades paying a mortgage on, they've been unable to send they are kids to college on top of that they face the indignity of being passed over in favor younger workers simply because of their age. again, that's not to say young workers have an easy time. i've heard many stories of young people, many with college degrees, who can't find work. they're piecing together a meager existence on part-time service jobs that waste the time, effort, and money they poured into an expensive education. i can't tell you how many young people i've talked to who have got a college degree, they're not working in their chosen profession, but they're working at mostly part-time work or at
service-oriented jobs that they know will not last them a lifetime. and service-oriented jobs that pay them a pittance of what they should be earning with their college degrees. still other workers here, they can't be considered by certain employers because they have been unemployed for too long. this is so even when a recruiter tells them they are perfectly qualified for the job. more workers would like to move in order to take advantage of a new opportunity they've heard about elsewhere, but guess what? their house is under water. not physically. that means that they owe more on their mortgage than what the house is worth, and they can't sell it. or they have been out of work so long, they have no money left to even afford to move. they can't even afford to pack up the u-haul and move someplace other workers have problems with
transportation or child care or day-to-day operations that make it harder to get an employer to take a chance on them. someone said to me one time, you know, people who don't get a job, there are places in this country where there are jobs. they can move. it's a free country. i said what about a single mother, got two kids, and she relies upon her mother as a baby sitter, as a child-care person to take care of the kids when she's out working on a minimum-wage job maybe part-time, how is she going to pack up and move those kids when she's got, quite frankly, free help from her mother? these are real barriers that real people face every day in their lives. i think they illustrate why the long-term unemployed who are working hard and playing by the rules still can't get a job because of factors beyond their
control. rather than chastising the victims, we should be giving a hand up to people in their hour of greatest need and helping them get back in the workforce. this support is critical not only for the workers and families affected but for our economy overall. research shows that for every dollar of unemployed benefits that are spent, we generate $2 in economic activity. why is that? because this money is not saved. it's not put into a shoe box. it's spent on essentials, helping businesses up and down main street in communities across the country. in addition, if unemployment benefits are extended, we will save about 560,000 jobs. by contrast, if we fail to renew these benefits, our economy will be deprived of many tens of billions of dollars of economic activity next year. in the end this will have a negative impact on overall gross domestic product.
so on the one hand, with benefits, we boost our economy with a potent return on investment. we help people in their hour of need. we meet our moral obligations as a society. but without benefits, we hurt our economy by shrinking consumer demand, by destroying jobs, and we don't meet our moral obligation. that's a caring government and a caring people. so there's a strong economic case for renewing unemployment insurance. i also say there's a strong human case for extending the benefits. where is our basic human compassion? the thought of letting these benefits expire is unconscionable, especially during this christmas season. after looking for work for at least six months but often more, many of these people already have lost their jobs, their homes, their savings, are now at
risk of losing their last lifeline. therethe roughly $300 a week thy receive in unemployment benefits. the bills don't stop coming when someone loses his or her job. the rent or mortgage, the electricity, the car payments all have to be made. the family still has to buy food, gasoline, medicine, school supplies, clothes. unemployment benefits are a life lean for the millions -- lifeline for the millions of folks living without an income and just trying to survive. these benefits kept more than three million people from falling into poverty last year. we have a moral obligation, those of us privileged to serve in the senate and the house, to continue the federal unemployment insurance programs while the economy continues to slowly recover. we cannot allow these benefits to expire. we cannot allow millions of our
friends, neighbors and relatives to sink into absolute poverty and desperation. we cannot fail to take action because that failure will result in families being put out on the street, children going to bed hungry, families left to shiver in the cold of their unheated homes. so i urge my colleagues to vote on this matter as soon as possible. during this holiday season, it's cruel to put millions of unemployed americans in the position of wondering how they're going to survive come january 1 of next year. so let us renew these benefits for another year. let us spend the next year doing everything we can to rebuild our economy, create jobs, provide unemployment to everyone who wants to work in this great nation. mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. begich: mr. president, today i rise to note some good news about the state of our american economy. hard work clearly remains. we're still recovering from the deepest slump since the great depression but i think it's time to appreciate our recent progress. over the past few days and weeks, there have been plenty of positive economic news. listen to some of these headlines. from "the new york times," "jobless rate dips to the lowest level in more than two year yea" from cnn -- "dow closes with the largest gain since march 2009." from reuters: "private-sector jobs soar. payroll forecasts rise." from the "wall street journal" -- "on-line sales reach record $1.25 billion on cyber
monday." i know it's far too early to claim and start to celebrate, but i want to tell you a little bit about some of the details of this news. and i know back in my state of alaska, just like everywhere else in this country, people are still struggling to balance their checkbooks. they face tough decisions about the cost of groceries, basic health care, college tuition for their kids and just the basic expenses to live. yet the recent news about our economy is very encouraging. i want to give those specific examples. on the unemployment and jobs, the bureau of labor statistics says total payroll has increased by 120,000 jobs in november. as the unemployment rate dropped to 8.6%. as the headlines said, the lowest level in more than two years. and also the latest news also marked 21 consecutive months of private-sector job growth. i know some will come down and
claim, well ring that's not good enough. well, i remember when i first came here prior to me serving in the senate, we were amplegging about 500,000 jobs being lost every month. let me repeat this one statistic. 21 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, not led by government job growth but private-sector job growth. an important distinction and important statistic. it is not robust but it is growing. again, positive u.n. on manufacturing -- manufacturing activity climbed in november according to the institute of supply management -- it's indicators tell us, manufacturing is continuing to expand. another strong signal of overall economic growth. the american ought mive industry is-- recover.
in november this year, light vehicle sales were up 11.4%. compared to a year ago, that's the highest sales rate since 2009. now, i'll note that that's after the program after that, the cash for clunkers program, which many in this chamber supported. there's more good news about them. ford says its november sales grew 14. chrysler reported a november sales jump of 44.5% from a year ago. and general motors reported it sold 7% more new cars and trucks in november than it did a year earlier. an investments in the markets -- again, a significant that will nays important. it is not something that you just judge the economy always by, but it is an important piece of the economy. what i mean by that is so much of middle-class america is tied
to the market, maybe it would be their 529 account for their kid's education or their own personal management of their account, or if you're self-employed, your s.e.p. account. the dow jones industrial average closed 12,000, over 12,000 last friday, a gain of 7% just in one week. and let me take a moment to kind of describe where we've come from in the market. last week's closing snums represent a gain of about 33% since january 2009, when several of us members just came into the senate. as you know in 2009, the markets went down in january. in march 2009 it dropped to its lowest level, 6,000 -- a little over 6,600. last week's numbers represent a whopping 81% increase since 2009. and, you know, if you take the next step and you look at the s&p in, the standard & poor's
index reflects a similar gain, up 36% since 2509, and since the dark days of march when it really crashed out, 82% increase. it's important because so much again of our retirements are tied to it. education as i mentioned, to see the market move up -- if you read or hear the pundits or politikoas around here, you know, it's always doom and gloom. i wanted to come down to the floor to talk about some of these issues because we are moving on the right track. we are moving in a positive way, but we don't hear this news because good news is never necessarily reported. it may show up one day and then disappear when one bad thing happens, we hear about that for a week and a half and we're back here tussling about why it is so bad. but the overall numbers tell us the numbers are changing in a positive way. the other piece, which is consumer confidence, which is important because if the consumer isn't confident about
the future, then they're not invest or spend or participate in this economy. but it is better. last month the consumer board's consumer confidence index rose to 56.0%, the highest level since july. americans spent $52.4 billion over a noser day thanks gichg weekend. according to the national retail federation, that's the highest total ever recorded during the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. when i was back home for thanksgiving, i heard this good news from many shop owners. the new apple store in anchorage saw record sales. thousands of shoppers coming through the door. i will tell you over thanksgiving weekend, it was a cold weekend. sales on cyber monday, the first online shopping day after things gaffing weekend rose 22% from a year ago. americans spent another record
$1.25 billion on that monday, setting again the record sales for cyber monday. on trairksd the trade deficit narrowed, not where we want it to be, but better, from $44.9 billion in august to $43.1 billion in september. that's athe smallest trade gap since the last december and the biggest one manufacture month improvement since july according to the commerce department. on housing which is a critical piece of our overall economy, some say it's why we're in the recession because the housing market collapsed totally, i think the housing had a huge impact but there's many other pieces to the equation -- but we never hear good news on the housing front. we always again hear the negative news. and there's still a lot of work here to get some of the current inventory off the market, help many people who are under water who stayed in their homes, make sure they continue to stay in their homes and receive the benefit. pending home sales index, a
forward-looking indevment based on contracts they're signing, people who are now looking at a home to purchase, who maybe entered in a contract and said i'll be purchasing this home 30, 60, 90 days from now, it was up 10.4% in october from the month before. the national association of realtors say home sales are up more than 9% in the same time last year. again, it is as robust as we want? no. is it better than where it was? absolutely. that's because many of the policies that myself and my colleagues and you, mr. president, have fought for on the floor here, lots of times we make these decisions and then we move on and we go to the next issue and we don't have time to reflect on the results of the work we're doing. and in the last two and a half years since the great recession came into play, there's a lot of good stuff happening. as for the residential construction, this is again people building homes, providing
construction jobs, providing new tax base for communities around this country that need it so they can hire the police and firefighters and teachers that need to protect these homes and their communities -- the census bureau says the seasonally adjusted rate of 239 billion up in october, up roughly 3.5% from the previous month. and from my own home state of arks again spending time back home i try to spend time with the small business community asking them how's it going, what's happening? what do you sense? uwhat's your confidence level? in the meeting i had with a group of small business owners, one got a loan from the s.b.a., the small business administration. took advantage of the low costs that we were able to implement through the legislation beesed right here. it helped him get into the restaurant. now employees sto 120 people in my community in alaska,
anchorage. another owner of a video production company has had one of the best years ever, creating work for corporate clients willing to spend money and finally, mr. president, all of these are very -- again, very positive developments. and now as we approach the end of the year, we're in the chamber -- of this chamber, we need to do our part to keep this momentum going forward. i know people watch us and we're squabbling off and on over the issues. all this good news is because of the work that a slim majority did over the last three years in this body. because we believed in the future. we believed in what the potential is of this great country we live in. and some maybe had different views of what could happen. but we believed in what's possible and these statistics show us that belief is now paying off. as i look at where we are today, we need to make again -- continue to make these smart public policy decisions that create a sound economy.
and we need to do it as best we can in a bipartisan way. i'm talking about right now extending the tax cuts for middle-class american families, continuing the trasm relief, giving a reduction in our payroll taxes, which is due to expire at the end of this year. before any of us leave washington later this month for the holidays, we clearly have to resolve this issue. in my opinion, we have no choice. and here's why. unless congress takes action-to-, the average middle-class family will be hit by a $1,000 tax increase starting in january. economists of all political stripes have called this tax cut critical for america's continued economic growth. they say letting it lapse would push us back into a deep recession. and truly that would be unforgivable, based on where we are today and how far we have come in a short time of two and a half -- almost three years
now. but some on the other side of the political aisle seem unsure about renewing the tax relief, the tax cut. this after fighting for massive tax cuts for the wealthy in our deficit-reduction talks. if they block this tax cut, about 160 million families will get the news during the holidays that their taxes are going up january 1. that's simply not fair. and it makes no sense just when the economic indicators i mentioned a moment ago are looking so positive. as they said, if we don't act, a typical family making $50,000 a year would see their taxes increase by $1,000. but if we pass the middle-class tax cut in 2011 for the 2012 tax year that same family will get a total tax cut of $1,500.
not only would they see the $1,000, they'd get an additional because of the way we've crafted this. most of the money goes directly into the economy. in alaska roughly 400,000 people benefit from the tax cut this year and it's used and pumped into our economy $300 million into the economy, which i know again the many small businesses that i was as a matter of fact traveling through couple of them with my son and his friend -- his son and his cousin, bosco store, while they were playing all the games for free, playing the race cars and looking at which baseball card they need to get, i was asking the clerk what was it like? there's no question they sensed there is a change in the economy in the pos tivment that's because in alaska, for example, these 400,000 people have $300 million in their pockets, not
here down with the i.r.s. taking it and putting it into the treasury but they have it. they spent it. i will tell you, i'll be frank about it yes, after my son and my ne nephew, his cousin, spent that time on the free road there playing with toys, i ended p spending some of that money also to help my small businesses there and the economy. but that's what it's about. notly this tax cut puts $110 billion into the american economy, and met me say that again. and underline that for people -- $110 billion, money that could go to the i.r.s. or go to middle-class americans. i think the choice is very clear. who should benefit from that -- those dollars? dollars. we were elected here to represent all americans, not just those at the top end, but the people who work every day,
the people we see, mr. president, on a regular basis when we go back home or when we walk out of this building or even in this billing, as you know, the calf cafeterias. the people who are spending the time to move this economy forward. it is our obligation to continue to do what we can to make their lives a little bit better, by lessening their burden of taxes and giving them the relief, the tax relief that they deserve and that we should be able to give to them as january 1 rolls around. mr. president, again, thank you for the time. i hope, as we move toward the holiday season here, that we can continue to give the gift of tax relief to middle-class americans to my 400,000 folks back in alaska who have benefited from this, and all the small businesses in alaska that have benefited from this. let's dot right thing, do it in a bipartisan way, and let's move
mr. sessions: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i would ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: i would ask that i be allowed to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: madam president, i understand the president made another speech today, and the speeches that he's been giving lately are clever political documents, and it is pretty clear that his focus has shifted from governing, now about a year
from the election day, to campaigning. but really our nation is in a serious financial condition. our debt is larger than we like to acknowledge that it is. our european friends on the other side of the atlantic are wrestling with their debt problems, and many of those nations, most of those nations have debt less than we do as a percentage of our g.d.p. and we know from every expert that we've heard on the budget committee, where i serve as ranking member, we must change our path. we are on an unsustainable path, and we cannot continue on that path. and time after time we've had hearings and we've heard experts and we've heard them on television and talking heads tell us we've got to get our
debt situation altered. we've got to get on a sound path. perhaps a tougher path for a few years, a harder road, but the right road, a road that will lead to soundness in our economy, prosperity and growth. that's what we need. now the debt commission that president obama appointed, headed by mr. erskine bowles and senator alan simpson, they told us we're on the most predictable path to a financial crisis the nation has ever been on. and what they were saying was the unsustainable debt, as they called it, trajectory of this country will lead us to some sort of economic catastrophe, knock us back into a recession, put us back like 2007, 2008 or like what europe is facing right now. they pleaded with us to do something about it.
and they, the debt commission, laid out a plan. i don't agree with everything in the plan. but it said at a minimum, a bipartisan agreement was achieved on this, the debt should be reduced. the added debt that we will incur over the next ten years should be reduced by at least $4 trillion. that we should reduce the growth of our debt by at least $4 trillion. so in the last two meetings in the budget control act, it looks like we achieved about $2.1 trillion, not the $4 trillion, but they all said we needed more than that. and because the increase in our debt over the next ten years would be about $10 trillion, $8 trillion. that's the increase on top of the $15 trillion we have already incurred. this past year, september 30
ended it, we will have added $1.23 trillion to our debt. the year before that, $1.3 trillion. the year before that, $1.2 trillion. three times, only three times in history we have had deficits over a trillion dollars. so it's a very serious situation that we are in. and so we have a speech, and i -- i just would have to say we try to look at the speech and see what it is that the president has proposed. he is our leader, our commander in chief. you only have one chief executive, one governor, one mayor. senator manchin here, he was a governor. he had to answer to his people and manage a state and the leadership. so what is it this executive, our president, is proposing that we do? well, it's -- it is pretty clear
that it appears that he is proposing that we spend next year, $324 billion more than we plan to spend. he calls it a tax cut or maintaining a tax cut. in truth, it's a holiday from paying in to our social security fund, our social security pension that all americans pay into as they work. it's a holiday on that. well, where does the money come from? so you have got a trust fund, the social security is -- we pay into it and we have got to promise a benefit when we retire and we want to honor that and make sure the social security trust fund is able to honor that. how do we not pay into it without hurting, damaging severely the social security trust fund? well, they say don't worry, we'll put the money in. who is we?
well, we is the united states treasury, the united states treasury will put the money in. but the united states treasury is running a 1.1 -- actually, projected before the year -- projected earlier by the congressional budget office to run a $1.0 trillion deficit this year, a little bit better than the $1.23 trillion deficit we ran last year. so we're running a trillion-dollar deficit. we don't have any money in the treasury to pay to social security. so how do we honor the social security trust fund? how do we put the money in? well, we give bonds. just an i.o.u. the united states treasury, easy as pie, signs a little document, an i.o.u., gives it to social security and says don't worry, no problem.
what? me worry? we have got it under control. well, where does this come from? social security is hitting in a trajectory that is going to call this debt. trustees are going to need this money to pay our beneficiaries, and they are going to call their debt to the united states treasury and the treasury is going to have to pay it, in my opinion, unless we totally abandon our responsibility to the seniors in america, and i don't think we will. so we're going to pay that money, and it added to the debt. this year, that we're in, under the president's plan beginning in january, it will add $324 billion in debt. now, see what the deficit commission, the bowles-simpson commission was all about was laying out a plan to reduce our debt.
not increase the debt. the first thing we have to do to confront a surging debt in america is to quit digging the hole deeper, quit asserting new programs to spend larger and larger amounts of money. and if you look at the -- and it would also add $155 billion the second year. so it would total 475 -- $479 billion. they say well, we have got the treasury figured out, we'll have a tax increase and we will raise be taxes and that will over ten years pay for the $479 billion that's added to our debt right now. there will be enough money coming in, don't worry, over the ten years from this new tax. i want to just say a couple of things about that. well, if we're going to raise
taxes, what the bipartisan debt commission told us was use it to pay down debt. don't use it to fund a new spending program of $479 billion. if you're going to cut spending somewhere in the program to save money, let's begin to reduce our debt. don't just cut spending so we can create a new spending program. we really have got to watch what we are doing. and i don't believe that it has been thought through carefully where we are heading, and i don't see anything in this speech today that would lay out a two, five, ten-year plan for making america stronger -- a stronger and better place. but we're told that the president cares about the middle class, and if you question any of these schemes, then you don't
care about working americans, and i reject that. that's offensive to me. i totally believe i represent the cross-section of people in my state and america. i love and respect the working people of this country, and they are entitled to better. they are entitled to leadership that tells them the truth, and the truth is we we are endangerg their future and their children's future by allowing the most incredible debt increases the nation has ever seen, and that has got to be brought under control. and it's offensive to suggest that if you have a different view about how to create jobs and wealth in america, you don't care about the people who make america great people go -- america great. people go to work every day, who
send their children to defend this country, who pay their taxes, obey the law, do things right and support those who are in trouble and need help. so i would just propose this. more specifically -- and i think the republican plan touches these very issues in an effective way that would, in fact, increase and enhance job creation and economic growth in america. first, we need policies that reduce the cost of energy for americans. we have got an energy department, an interior department that seems to believe its goals in life should be to drive up the cost of energy. make coal, make natural gas harder to produce, make oil more hard to produce, make us have to buy it from abroad when we could produce more at home, creating jobs in this country, creating wealth in this country, creating
taxpayers in this country. way need more american energy. we need more energy at lower prices. the idea that somehow we're going to be better off because of carbon or other issues to have higher energy prices so we use less of it is a totally -- is totally unjustified, and it's creating an incredible burden on working americans. we need to end the health care proposal that is clearly driving up health care costs. it's causing businesses not to hire. i have talked to them. small businesses in my state. they are assure me with absolute confidence that the health care bill that will begin to take effect will cause them to hire fewer people. we need more people hired. we need more people working. we need to eliminate
unnecessary, counterproductive governmental regulations that drive up the cost of our products, making them less competitive in the world marketplace. we need to do that. it won't cost the treasury any money, but it will make measure more productive and create jobs. i supported and worked with my democratic colleagues, and we passed in this senate, but the president didn't support it. legislation to demand that china treat its curncy in a -- currency in a fair way, to eliminate the currency participation they have been participating in and to eliminate the savaging of american industry that's occurring in this country as a result of unfair trade. that's very real. it's got to end, and the president needs to be leading on
that. and he would create jobs in our country without adding to our debt. and finally, the greatest threat to our economic growth and to our job creation in america is the debt itself. it's a cloud over our economy. we have got to do more about it. there is one more thing i would mention, and that's tax simplification and tax alteration. not to get necessarily less taxes but to create the tax revenue that the government takes in florida way that does not damage the economy. create a tax simplification plan that would encourage economic growth and prosperity and not pull down economic growth and prosperity. so once we have done those things, we begin to focus on reducing our surging debt, and if we do it steadfastly, like
governors all over america are doing. governor bentley in alabama, he is having to face challenges and he is making tough decisions, but the state is still operating. it hasn't sucked into the ocean. neither has new jersey. neither has other states, even new york and others are beginning to confront their debt situation and make tough choices. we're not doing it here. our president is proposing more spending. not just this $324 billion plan. he is proposing to spend 10% more on the education department next year, 10% more on the department of antienergy, 10% more for the state department. at a time when the country is in its most severe debt crisis in its history. that's not responsible. this debt is a threat to us.
you talk to the financial experts and the wizards who move money around the world. they are worried about it. you talk to government experts like the secretary of treasury or the federal reserve chairman or the head of the congressional budget office, they tell us this is dangerous what we are doing. we are on an unsustainable path, and i do not see in this speech today any commitment, any leadership from the president on this fundamental issue. and the most fundamental failure of his leadership is not to hook hook -- look the american people in the eye and tell them honestly and truthfully that we are spending too much. back in marion, alabama, i was at a town hall meeting -- actually, it was a meeting at somebody's house, 30 or 40 people there. the oldest georgia there spoke last. he fought in world war ii. he grew up during the
depression. and he told us in his view it was not the high cost of living that was getting us in trouble but the cost of living too high. and i do believe we have been living too high, we have been spending too much, and the president, our leader, should be talking directly and honestly to us and laying out a two, five, ten-year plan that would bring this deficit down, explain to the american people why we all are going to have to tighten our delts, why there is nothing, defense or anything else that's going to avoid having to tighten its belt, and we can do this and put our country on a sound path without having a debt crisis that would be a tragedy of documental proportions. so, madam president, i just wanted to share those thoughts today. this congress is going to have to do more than tread water for the next year.
we're going to have to do more than just play clever political games. we're going to have to deal with the threat we face honestly and directly, and the proposal i see that was floated again today from the white house may sound good politically, but for me, as one who has been looking at the numbers, it does one thing. it increases the debt over the next year or two by $479 billion. that means probably this year's deficit will not be $1 trillion but probably $1.35 trillion. 107,350 billion dollars. we're promised there will be a tax increase, that after ten years somehow we'll pay for this. that's the kind of thinking
and -- and action that has allowed this country to get out of control financially. and i hope we can do better. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. margin: i rise to mark a truly important day for my state and indeed this entire nation. december 6 is national nine miners day, a time we honor our nation's coal miners and honor those who have done so much. these brave men and women work every day to keep the challenge of keeping our nation free and strong. although the history of mining is marked by tragedy the bravery of our miners has never fault faltered. it is befitting we learned this morning of a landmark settlement of more than $200 million in one of the worst mining tragedies our state has ever faced.
on april 5, 2010, 29 miners lost their lives in the upper big branch mine which was then owned by massey energy. today the u.s. attorney for the southern district of west virginia, mr. booth goodwin, announced an agreement with alpha natural resources, the company that purchased the massey mines. this comprehensive and forward-looking settlement takes the right steps to truly protect our miners. by investing more than $120 million of this settlement in mine safety, including improvements to existing mines, a new west virginia safety training facility, and a research trust. this agreement demonstrates that the government and the company are serious about creating a true legacy of mine safety. while nothing can replace, ever replace the beloved miners that we lost that terrible day, today's agreement shows that we all have zero tolerance for anything corporations do or
don't do that leads to a mine fatality. as i've always said, at the heart of this tragedy is the simple fact that we must do everything in our power to never, ever allow any worker to be in a position where this could happen to them or their family. especially since today is national miners day. my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the 29 miners who died at upper big branch, and i want to assure the families that the loss of their loved ones will not be in vain. every worker should know that when they kiss their children goodbye in the morning, that they will return home at the end of that shift, at the end of the day to kiss them good night. i thank u.s. attorney goodwin and his team for negotiating this settlement that focuses on training and safety in future and also thank alpha natural resources for rising to the occasion and meeting these terms
even though alpha did not own upper big branch mine at the time of the disaster i applaud the company for taking responsibility for both the mistakes that were made and for investing in the future of mining to help prevent another tragedy like this from ever taking place taking place. i encourage them and all mining companies to continue to take steps to protect our miners. in addition i'm pleased that this agreement does not impede the families from pursuing additional civil remedies and does not prevent the authorities from prosecuting individuals whose action may warrant criminal charges. there should be no immunity for anyone who is determined to be responsible in any way for the tragedy at upper big branch. april 5, 2010 was one of our state's most heartbreaking days. i hope and pray that we will never again endure a tragedy like the upper big branch deaths and i will work every day to make sure that we don't.
also today we remember the 104th anniversary, 104th anniversary of the monga mine tragedy, our nation's worst mining tragedy, one that took 362 brave souls that we could account for and it's been told that many more were lost in that horrible tragedy. so on this day it is fitting to pay our respects and show appreciation for the miners of yesterday and today. we need to recognize the contribution of past miners who have led to us where we are now. and today's miners who keep traveling deep into the darkness to provide millions of americans with electricity that powers our lives and the steel with which we build our nation. without these men and women our world would look very different. they are the true backbone of our country. our miners extracted the coal that powered the military ships in world war i and world war ii and every conflict since. coal provided the steel to make our country the greatest
industrial power in the world, ushering in prosperity that built our infrastructure and developed a quality of life that became and is still the envy of the world. coal provides nearly half of the electricity in our country and every day millions of homes are warm, they're safe and full of life thanks to the coal. think for a moment. try to imagine our country if we had not had coal. it's almost inconceivable. coal is mined all over this great nation. i think all -- thank all the men and women every wrote who work in this industry but i can speak personally about our brave and hard-working miners in west virginia. the miners of west virginia and their families are the heart and soul of the mountain state, and truly an inspiration for me. extracting minerals from the earth is not for the faint of heart. the work requires engineering brilliance, nerves of steel and fearless dedication. west virginia coal miners continue to set the bar for
productivity, quality, and innovation. their work ethic is second to none. coal miners are not looking for handout, never have. all they want is a work permit so they can go to work, earn a good wane and provide for their families. and coal miners are much more than just the work they do. they are some of the most loyal, brave, trusted, and patriotic folks could you ever meet. like their fellow west virginians, these folks can shake your hand, look into your eyes and touch your heart. our coal miners love their families, they love the outdoors, their communities, and their state. these miners work hard every shift. but if they get home and find a person in need, their day just begins again. if you're hungy ri, they will feet you -- hungry, they will feed you. if they lost they'll not only give you the correct directions, they'll say, oh, heck, follow me and i'll take
you there. it's the kind of people who they are and makes oh we are in west virginia and makes me proud to be a west virginian and have the honor of representing them. i will continue to tell our state's story when it comes to coal, and i will constantly work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to develop technology that allows us to continue to use american coal to help achieve energy independence for our great country which will ensure our national security and grow our economy. the simple fact this: this country needs coal and our coal miners are still willing to do the job. so today it is my privilege to say thank you. thank you for the job that our brave coal miners perform. this nation was built on the backs of our coal miners and all of us should thank them not only today but every day of this year and every year to come. thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor and i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
quorum call: quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. a senator: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: i came to the floor to speak about richard cordray's nomination, but i wanted to acknowledge the remarks of senator manchin as well. we have coal miners in my great state of colorado, particularly located in the northwestern section of our state. they're hardworking, they're patriotic, we have some of the cleanest coal in the world used all over our country and exported to many countries around the world and i want to thank him for his remarks and thank him for drawing attention to their accomplishments and their contributions to america. madam president, as i mentioned i wanted to come to the floor
and put a word in for richard cordray, who has been nominated to lead the consumer financial protection bureau otherwise known as the cfpb. nearly two months ago i urged our leaders to prioritize our nominees because without a director there is important consumer protection work being left undone, work that would benefit hard-working coloradans, those citizens of new hampshire and all across our nation. so i want to begin my remarks my thanking both the majority leader and the republican leader for moving to this important nomination. after having done that, i want to turn and speak directly to coloradans and any other americans who may be listening today. you know, we get up here as senators and we'll talk about this agency or that agency and it all frankly at times sounds like an alphabet soup. but this agency's not just
another alphabet agency. the cfpb may be one of the most important federal agencies that we have and it should be open -- allowed to open its doors fully and begin the important work of protecting our consumers. the cfpb was created in the wall street reform and consumer protection act to protect american consumers from predatory and unfair financial practices. it was chartered to prevent the same kind of abuses that banks and other large financial firms engaged in as they drove our economy into the ditch a few short years ago. when we look back at the financial collapse in 2008, many of us still can't believe that the largest banks and financial institutions in our country were able to put our economy at such risk. and as drastic measures had to be taken and billions of dollars invested in these firms, it certainly didn't seem fair that banks and other financial
institutions should get taxpayer help after having taken advantage of the good new england of american consumers -- intentions of american consumers and as a result tanking our economy. but the truth is we were forced to act here in the congress or even worse financial troubles awaited us. in fact, potentially a worldwide financial depression. so that backed up, that's really why the congress created the cfpb to ensure that that kind of abuse never happens again. and when we passed the wall street reform act, congress made clear its intent to create a watchdog with a responsibility to make the financial marketplace safe for consumers. i think the presiding officer would agree that's something we should all want, to ensure that americans aren't being taken advantage of by big businesses and wall street bankers, to ensure someone is out looking for the little guy, to ensure
there is slightly more of a level playing field for the americans who play by the rules. unfortunately, it's not. many of our colleagues are raising a host of issues related to one central argument, that the cfpb will not be accountable to congress and it will go hog wild in its efforts to look out for hard-working americans. yes, madam president, that's right, they argue that the cfpb will have too much power to protect consumers. i know that seems strange to hear, especially after the banking sector abuses nearly sent our economy down an irrecoverable path and millions of americans saw many investments and much of their net worth disappear overnight. but yes, some of our colleagues want to weaken the consumer protections included in the wall street reform bill which, by the way, is the law of the land.
and in order to make sure that that happens, they vowed to clock bloc, to filibuster all nominees to help the cfpb regardless of who they are. there's been blanket statements made at the front end of this effort, that whoever the nominee is, that person will be blocked. it strikes me that by doing that, they think that they're going to deny the cfpb a director and that will erode the bureau's effectiveness and make it easier for banks to operate without limitation. that's precisely why we have to overcome the filibuster that's being waged against mr. cordray right now. without his leadership and a strong cfpb to look out after the interests of consumers, we're going to put the financial security of hard-working american families at risk and the country's economic recovery at risk. by failing to give the cfpb a director, a confirmed director, we're actually
reducing oversight of predatory lending and deceptive banking practices. these are practices that in no way help our economy and our economic recovery. i don't think i'm stretching the facts in saying this: deceptive financial practices continue to threaten americans every day, and we can do more to ensure that these abuses are brought to an end. let me focus on one particular area. credit reporting agencies continue their deceptive ads on weapon sites with misleading names such as www.freescore.com and www.freecredit.com that lure people into a costly credit monitoring service and do not offer free credit scores at all. instead they take your credit card number and begin charging you a monthly fee. it's a similar hustle that many other too good to be true
websites offer. the problem is that this deceptive ad strikes at the heart of americans' personal financial health. a person starts off by doing the responsible thing, trying to check their credit score but the next thing they know, their credit card is being charged and they don't have that important data tied to their credit score. the point i'm trying to make is without a confirm director, the cfpb has diminished power to investigate the actions of the major credit reporting agencies and pull down these kinds of deceptive ads. that just doesn't make any sense to me. it's the sort of thing that coloradans have been asking me along these lines. when are you guys in d.c., when are you guys in the senate are going to side with us and stop allooking out for the big banks. and in these tough economic times, we need to do all we can to block such dishonest advertisements and help empower
consumers to avoid these financial traps and the cfpb is the best way to accomplish these important goals. but it needs a director to be able to act. now, as some watching today know and i hope coloradans know, the wall street reform bill contained a bipartisan provision that i authored that now requires that lenders and other creditors to provide consumers a free credit score when their score is used to deny them credit or they're offered credit on less favorable terms. and i authored this provision because credit scores are the most important and influential measure of a consumer's creditworthiness. as millions of americans work to repair their credit status in the wake of the nation's worst financial collapse since the great depression, it's my belief that the cfpb must fully implement its congressionally
mandated oversight and related products to stop deceptive advertisements and other setups. i'll say it beagain. in order to carry out this mission, the senate must confirm a director to head the cfpb. the consumers union, madam president, one of the leading consumer advocates in the u.s. is urging congress to confirm him so the consumer financial protection bureau can tackle other critical consumer protections like producing the penalty fees and punitive interest rates banks can charge, requiring credit rating agencies to maintain accurate consumer credit files and investigate and fix errors reported by consumers. as an aside, madam president, i know you have heard stories about consumers who are operating in good faith and then come to find out their credit files are not accurate and they are penalized because of that situation. the cfpb could require credit agencies to maintain accurate
files. and finally, the cfpb could police the mortgage market to stop scams against consumers and prevent the return of the toxic loans and the dangerous lending practices that led to the foreclosure crisis and ultimately the recession. i don't think i'm overstating the situation when i say there is still a slew of unsafe financial products and services in the marketplace. when consumers are lured into those traps, they then can get into a high-interest debt situation. that affects all of us. it affects our economic health more broadly. so the cfpb would be given the capacity to tackle these abusive and deceptive practices and then be on the lookout for the next breed of financial scams. madam president, i'd ask unanimous consent for an additional 30 seconds. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. udall: for these reasons, madam president, it's my hope that the senate will take action
quickly to confirm mr. cordray's nomination and put in place an effective consumer financial watchdog to ensure americans get the tools they need to take control of their own financial destinies. it will help our economy, it will help americans, it will help small businesses. let's confirm this gentleman to head the cfpb. madam president, thank you for your attention. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: thank you. just a few weeks ago, in november, in communities across our country, our nation's men and women in uniform were honored on veterans day for their service to our nation. i'd like to share a story with my colleagues of one exceptional kansas veteran who is no longer with us but whose story stands as a lasting tribute to the members of our armed forces, whose courage and sacrifice preserves our freedoms. father emil kateman was born in
1916 and served in the diocese of wichita for four years before volunteering for the u.s. army in 1944. during the korean war, he served as a chaplain for the eighth cal have calvary regimen of the first army division. his courageous actions in the korean battlefield saved countless lives as he ran under enemy fire to rescue wounded soldiers. when the father was taken prisoner in 1950, he continued to live out the army chaplain motto -- for god and country. in the bitter cold winter, father capeman carried his comrades on his back through forced marches on snow and ice, gave away his meager food rations and cared for the sick who were suffering alongside him in the prison camp. when all looked hopeless, this simple priest from kansas rallied his comrades, regardless of their faith, to persevere until his own death as a prisoner of war in 1951.
this good man distinguished himself by laying down his life for the sake of others. earlier this year, senator roberts and i introduced legislation to award this kansas war hero the medal of honor for his aks of valor in the korean war. the legislation would request and provide the department of defense and the president with the authority to grant this important honor. by waiving the three-year statute of limitations, the time in which it can be awarded, father capeman would be eligible to receive the medal of honor. senator roberts and i offered this legislation recently as an amendment to the senate defense authorization bill and the amendment was unanimously approved by the senate. and i thank senators levin and mccain for their support. my kansas colleagues in the house were also successful in including this language in the house's version of the national defense authorization act, and i would ask that with such strong support from both chambers, this provision be included in this year's final defense authorization bill. father kapin is most deserving
of the distinguished award and i'm hopeful the secretary of defense and president obama will use the authority outlined in this legislation to give father kapaun his long overdue recognition. at this special season of the year, we are reminded there are saints and heroes throughout the history of our nation that put others above themselves and live by god's plan for their lives. may we be inspired by their example and live our lives accordingly. father kapaun demonstrated that one person can make a difference and help change the world. i yield the floor. mr. alexander: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander alexander: thanks, madam president. madam president, i want to speak this afternoon of a lesson for washington, d.c., from maryville, tennessee, which is my hometown, and the lesson is a lesson most of us learned in kindergarten, and which i learned in my mother's concerned
gartd enwhich was in a converted garage in our backyard in mare entryville, and it was three words -- work well together. latest example of that out of my hometown was all over the sports pages on sunday. "historic championship: maryville wins the 13th state title ever." our football team has throarnd o work well together. they won the second consecutive state championship. 13, as the newspaper said, in all. i watched the game on statewide television. their record this year was 15-0. it was their ninth state title and ninth perfect season under an extraordinary coach, george corals, who has won 179 games and lost 13 games in his can reefer coaching. -- in his career of coaching. this is the most state titles of any -- any school in tennessee in its history. the team scored 35 or more points and 109 of coach corals'
first 191 games averaged 30 or more points in 12 of his 13 seasons. and his senior quarterback this year, pat robinson, who's got scholarships from good schools everywhere, was named the gatorade tennessee football player of the year, part of which has to do with his academic credentials. he's got a straight a-plus average. which leads me to the second thing they work well together on in maryville, tennessee, and that is that the maryville city schools were named the best overall school district in the state based on their academic performance by the state collaborative on reforming education. the maryville city schools recently received all a's on its state math, reading, social studies, science, and writing assessments. according to "national tennessean," they had the second highest test scores in the state in reading and math. the high school was selected as one of three finalists in the prized category of high schools for -- quote -- "based primarily
on student achievement, gains and progress over time." more than 80% of maryville's high school students were proficient in math. 88% in reading/language arts. more than 90% graduated in 2010 from the high school. four seniors were national merit semifinalists. 48% of maryville high school's students took the a.c.t. college prep tests last year and met all four benchmarks for college and career readiness: english, math, reading and science. compared to 15% statewide and 25% nationally. so the football team and the students academically have learned to work well together at maryville high school. now, how did this all happen? i know a little bit about this. i'm a proud graduate, as you might have suspected by now, of maryville high school. and i've wondered about this for a long time, how could it have
such success in so many things. it's not the richest town in the state by a long shot. most families in maryville would describe themselves as middle income. one indicator of why they succeed and why they achieve so much excellence in so many ways in their schools is that the town devotes about 70% of its budget to its schools. and it's in a county where about half the citizens, 50% of the citizens of 100,000 in blunt county have a library card. and it's a place where, at least it was when i was there, if you get in trouble at home, you get in trouble at -- if you get in trouble at school, you get in trouble at home. i can remember being called to the principal's office and administered a pretty stern discipline when i was in the eighth grade and i got the same treatment at home when i got home, even though my father was chairman of the school board. there was none of this business of parents blaming the teacher and the principal for what the child had done.
but i think the school principal, who's new to the town, greg roach, said it best. i saw him being interviewed at half time of the football game last saturday night. he was asked, "how did this happen? how did you have this championship football team more than any other school in the state, and you're named the best school district? the state? how can do you that all at once?" he said, well, it's a town school, and when something happens, everybody shows up. well, they showed up at tennessee tech for the football game last saturday night but they also show up at the annual academic awards banquet. i've been to those in the last several years. it's more like a sporting contest, with this student winning the national spanish championship and this one doing well in latin and getting the same kind of honors and the same kind of awards and scholarships and pats on the back that the football players do. this emphasis on excellence in education and athletics is not something new in maryville,
tennessee. my grandfather sold his farm in the county to move into town so my father could go to school and my ownt said that my -- aunt said that my father said he felt like he'd died and gone to heaven when he had that opportunity. then my father, who was an elementary school principal, after world war ii ran for the city school board with four other men and women and they stayed on the board as a ticket. they were elected every year as a ticket. and they stayed there for 25 years with the whole objective of improving the quality of the education in the maryville city school system. while all that was going on, my mother taught school, as i mentioned earlier, in a preschool program. really the only one in our county at the time. i think mr. pesterfield also had a preschool program. but mr. alexander's, and i used to call it lower institution of learning, had 25 three and four-year-olds and 25 five-year-olds in the afternoon. and she was lobbying the whole